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Santa Rosa upbeat on finding millions of dollars for long-planned footbridge

Will Schmitt, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa has yet to secure the millions of dollars needed to build a long-planned bridge for cyclists and pedestrians to cross Highway 101, but that’s not stopping city officials and consultants from pressing ahead with design and location plans for a span they hope to start building in less than two years.

The bridge is touted by the city and its supporters as a necessary connector that will facilitate safer nonautomotive access over the freeway near its high-traffic interchanges at College Avenue and Steele Lane. They serve Coddingtown Mall, the nearby Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit station, Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa High School and nearby neighborhoods.

Beyond figuring out how to drum up the estimated $11 million to $13 million needed to build the crossing, Santa Rosa will need to determine whether they want a light, airy design that preserves views for highway motorists — or a more imposing and unique bridge that becomes a new city landmark.

“What’s really great is that this is an amazing opportunity to right some of the planning wrongs” of the past, Adam Sharron, a landscape architect and member of the city’s Design Review Board, said at Thursday’s meeting. Cost permitting, he added, the city’s new crossing could be a statement piece “that is made to be a design, rather than utilitarian bridge.”

The city has a lot of work ahead before it can realize that vision. Initial designs conceived by city staff and consultants called for a bridge that would blend into highway surroundings and preserve far-reaching views for northbound drivers. The City Council is not expected to consider the project until early 2020, said Jason Nutt, the city’s director of transportation and public works.

The bridge has been in the works for more than a decade, and city documents show work slated to begin in January 2021 and finish in July 2022. The city has been able to find money to study potential bridge designs, but “we don’t have funding secured for construction,” Christopher Catbagan, a city engineer, said Thursday.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9505687-181/santa-rosa-upbeat-on-finding

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Santa Rosa planning commission approves ambitious bike pedestrian plan

Will Schmitt, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A Highway 101 overcrossing connecting Coddingtown Mall to Santa Rosa Junior College and a contentious railroad crossing with an uncertain future are among the bicycle and pedestrian projects proposed in an aspirational city plan that would more than double the number of bikeways in the city.

“It is an ambitious list,” said Nancy Adams, a city transportation planner. “Once you get the road map, now we have to start talking and having the hard conversations on how do you start and get something accomplished.”

The updated bicycle and pedestrian master plan, which contains dozens of projects meant to make it easier to travel around Santa Rosa without a car, won unanimous approval from the Planning Commission on Thursday. It is set to go before the City Council in March.

The plan is inherently optimistic about the city’s ability to pay for future expansions of its walking and biking network. But cash-strapped Santa Rosa’s leaders have devoted recent budget discussions to cutting spending and replenishing reserves depleted by the October 2017 wildfires to pay down pension liabilities.

The city doesn’t have funding for all of the plan’s projects at this time, Adams acknowledged. The proposed Highway 101 crossing connecting the mall and college campus in north Santa Rosa has funding for its design, but the city hasn’t identified how to pay for its construction, she said.

In all, the city has proposed adding 129 miles of bikeways throughout Santa Rosa, increasing its network of bike paths to 242 miles. Alongside the expansive list of potential projects comes data showing that bikes and feet are far from the most popular ways to get to work in Santa Rosa.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9289467-181/santa-rosa-bike-path-plan

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Sustainability efforts at Santa Rosa Junior College

Amy Reynolds, THE OAK LEAF
As the first community college in the state to receive a National Science Foundation grant to promote sustainability and sustainable agriculture education, Santa Rosa Junior College is ahead of the game.
“That’s our mantra. Everything we do here is sustainable,” said Ganesan Srinivasan, dean of agriculture, natural resources and culinary arts. “If you’re not sustainable it’s very difficult for a small farmer to survive here.”
SRJC is the only community college with a certificate program in sustainable agriculture. It is one of our fastest growing programs. We live in a region where organic farming and sustainable practices are the norm, not the exception, so it’s not surprising students are interested in learning about these practices.
Starting with an intro to sustainable agriculture, classes involve organic practices, composting and certification. Classes are a mix of entry level students and established farmers who want to learn new techniques.
Sonoma County wants 100 percent of its vineyards to be completely sustainable by 2020. The 84-acre vineyard and winery on Shone Farm is already there. They’re reducing water, chemical and energy use by using recycled water on the vineyard and using wood from their own forest on the farm.
Shone Farm has planted 150 acres of forest, teaching forestry students and park management. All lumber taken from the forest is used for fencing and other projects on the farm, so it’s all recycled. The Tiny House Club is even working on its first house from lumber harvested on the farm.
SRJC’s cafeteria gets a lot of its food from Shone Farm and all waste coming from it and the culinary café goes back to Shone Farm where they can do the composting. They use drip irrigation, so the plants receive just how much they need as opposed to flat irrigation.
Srinivasan has future plans to go far more into solar in the fall, although he has already bought a solar powered electric cart for taking visitors around the farm and plans to put some solar changing stations in. Most of the produce grown on the farm (all organic) goes towards the Shone Farm Community Supported Agriculture, although quite a bit supplies both the culinary café and sometimes the cafeteria.
In a perfect world, Robert Ethington, dean of student affairs and engagement programs, sees a bike/pedestrian bridge between Coddingtown and Elliot, something the city is looking into, a pedestrian/bike only Elliot Avenue and a shuttle between the Petaluma campus and the Santa Rosa campus.
Members of the SRJC Sustainabilty Collaborative have created the Green Print Project, a plan to help create a culture of sustainability on campus. The plan details 18 objectives to be completed by 2018, ranging from aligning water, food and waste with the best sustainable practices, to assuring green building and sustainable facilities to implement sustainable SRJC lectures and events.
They also plan on establishing sustainable transportation improvements, increasing community outreach and collaboration. The collaborative is not only trying to increase the visibility of this plan and the brand which is a sustainable SRJC, they’re focusing on making a sustainable life a little easier for students.
The collaborative is hosting a “Transportation Innovation Forum” on Sept. 23, attended by SMART Train, the Bike Coalition, Santa Rosa City Transit, Sonoma County Transit and the Sonoma County Transit Authority. The forum will focus on what they can do to make students feel more encouraged to either ride their bike or take the bus, rather than drive their car.
Another proposal the collaborative is working on is the Real Food Challenge, getting SRJC’s food service vendors to agree to certain criteria for the food they serve, such as humane regulations and local, organic and fair trade.
One of the college’s goals going forward is creating a culture of sustainability. The SRJC Sustainability Collaborative, comprised of 23 students, faculty and administration, is hoping the Green Print Project is a plan for how we can get there.
Source: The Oak Leaf : Sustainability efforts at SRJC