By Kathy Chouteau
Construction is slated to kick off this summer on a project in North Richmond that aims to improve pedestrian access along Fred Jackson Way from Brookside Drive to Grove Avenue in North Richmond, called the First Mile/Last Mile Pedestrian Connection Project, according to Contra Costa County officials.
Existing sidewalks pose barriers to mobility as they are three feet wide and have power poles in the middle of them, according to county officials. Plans include narrowing the roadway and installing an 8 foot wide sidewalk that will run .3 miles from Grove Ave. to the Wildcat Creek Trail. Related plans north of Wildcat Creek will include widening the road for a pedestrian path and bike lane that will extend another .3 miles to Brookside Dr. The road will also be restriped to accommodate the bike lane and safe pedestrian access to four transit stops.
Trees will also be added to enhance the environment, which county officials described as “an important benefit for a community with a poverty rate that is 50 percent higher than the surrounding area.”
The county estimates the project will span four months at a cost of $2.5 million. The project is funded by the Active Transportation Program (ATP), Transportation for Livable Communities (TLC) and Area of Benefit (AOB).
The county says the project will enhance access to affordable housing, transit, schools, jobs, shopping, regional trails, a senior center and other community facilities.
“The Fred Jackson Way project will provide residents with improved access to safely walk the first mile and last mile of their commutes,” county officials said in their project overview.
The project bridges the gap between the residential southern section of North Richmond situated south of Wildcat Creek with the more commercial area that lies north of it, officials said. It also reportedly aims to provide access for all to transit options and other community resources, reduce GHG emissions and promote a healthy, active lifestyle for residents.