Residents and visitors can expect in the next year a convenient place downtown to park their vehicles, while others will have a more modern area to wait for public transportation. The final planning stages for a Park and Ride transit center in downtown Tehachapi are in the works with construction projected to begin in the spring of 2018.
On August 21 at the Tehachapi City Council meeting, proposals were approved to hire an engineering firm, review a Union Pacific Railroad ground lease draft, and accept costs — all of which were passed by all members of the council.
The Park and Ride transit center will be located on the north side of Tehachapi Boulevard between Mill and Pauley Street and be leased from the Union Pacific Railroad by the city. It will include 100 to 120 parking spaces for people who share rides to nearby cities or businesses, and a bus turnout for both east- and westbound traffic for Kern Regional Transit shuttles.
Funds of more than $1.3 million will come from the U.S Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant. Also, other small grants, plus a city fund amount between $50,000 and $100,000 will be utilized to meet the expenditures, said Jay Schlosser, development services director for the City of Tehachapi.
The estimate to complete the project is $1,490,000, but that amount can change depending on design. At the present time, the engineering firm 4 Creeks Inc. has been asked to assist the city with the scope of work, permitting, and other engineering services in order to start the construction of the project. The environmental process needs to be completed before the finalization of the ground lease with Union Pacific Railroad.
“The next stage for us as staff is to finish the environmental process, and to begin the engineering design process, both of which mark the point on which we begin spending grant funds,” said Schlosser.
Many properties not owned by Union Pacific were considered. This included improvements to the current transit stop on the east side of Kmart, and other nearby locations in downtown.
However, some businesses and owners did not agree to terms with the city's proposals, even though it would help cut down parking lot congestion and allow more space for customers according to Schlosser. Other City Council members agreed as well.
“I think its a wonderful idea because what's happening now is that people are using Albertsons and Save Mart parking lots because they don’t have anywhere else to park and ride so its something that’s badly needed and I think the city is stepping up to the plate to relieve the congestion,” said Mayor Ed Grimes after the meeting.
The property owned by Union Pacific Railroad was selected and will be leased for 15 years and at the end of the 15 years, renewing annually. The city is to pay $17,390 per year to lease the one acre of property.
The Park and Ride transit center will be a practical and safe area for commuters traveling to surrounding cities for work or school and give space for visitors to park their vehicles no matter what day or time.
“It will be great event parking space on nights and weekends when there won’t be as many cars there and mountain fest was a perfect example. This town was packed with cars so another 120 parking spots in the downtown area are going to be a good thing,” said Schlosser.