Fresno State in 2014 got four grants designed to help construct a bikeway along Barstow Avenue.
Three years later, the bikeway has not been built.
The Collegian reported in 2014 that Caltrans Active Transportation program awarded $872,000 to the university. Additionally, the Fresno Council of Governments’ Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program gave $570,000 and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District awarded two grants that totaled about $200,000.
Though a bikeway was installed on the south side of Barstow Avenue between Cedar and Maple avenues in May 2014, it was paid for with a different set of funds, said Deborah Adishian-Astone, vice president for administrative services.
Adishian-Astone said the bikeway project for which the grants were awarded was put on hold in January 2016 due to a number of factors. First, Adishian-Astone said that the grant money only provided enough for the bikeway to extend a half mile from Jackson to Cedar avenues.
The plan for the bikeway was for it to extend from Cedar to Chestnut avenues.
“The bike path would not have connected to any other bike paths farther east on Barstow Avenue,” Adishian-Astone said. “The result could have created an unsafe situation for bicyclists if we could not build out the entire bike path.”
Adishian-Astone added that the costs to finish the Barstow Avenue bikeway had continued to increase. The costs included upgrading the traffic signal at Barstow and Cedar avenues, which would have to be done with the help of City of Fresno. And, those accommodations were not included in the original bikeway plans.
The contractor’s asking price also complicated the process, said Adishian-Astone, stating that the bid amounts exceeded the budget.
Thomas Gaffery, Fresno State’s former parking and transportation manager, told The Collegian in 2014 that the bikeway could cost upwards of about $2 million. The grants, in total, are about $1.6 million.
Gaffery added that Fresno State could possibly rely on more grants, allowing it to allocate campus funds “for other priorities.” The Collegian has not learned of new grants awarded for the bikeway since those given in 2014.
Adishian-Astone said it is not uncommon for the contractor bids to surpass the budget. She added that “planning efforts for projects of this type are dependent upon funding availability.”
Since the construction costs have increased, Adishian-Astone said that the university has invested its time and resources in “projects that will have the highest and best use by our campus and community.”
Adishian-Astone said the bikeway continues to be in the Fresno State master plan, but the timeline for its completion remains hazy.
“There is no current timeline for when this [bikeway] project will be completed due to funding and other roadway and infrastructure projects that are currently in the planning phases,” Adishian-Astone said.
She added that she understands the importance of the bikeway, seeing as “it would connect the campus community to neighboring city bikeways.”
Former Fresno State director of university initiatives and projects, Dr. Gillisann Harootunian, issued a similar sentiment in 2014 when he said: “[The bikeway] transforms the university from being a barrier of commuter bicycling to being a major access route.”