The Tehachapi City Council approved spending more than $1 million on a bike path — but not before hearing some concerns about the cost.
The Class I, two-lane bike path will extend from Hayes Street east, to Steuber Road, and will follow the north side of Tehachapi Boulevard.
Questions that arose during the July 17 City Council meeting included: Is it wise to spend this much money on a bike path? How many people would use it? Could grant funds be better spent somewhere else?
"If you have an opportunity to improve the entrance to your city, businesses coming into a city take a look around at infrastructure," Councilman Phil Smith said. He added that if the funds are not used, Tehachapi will lose the money and it will be given to another city.
But Councilman Kenneth R. Hetge said, "Why are we spending money on this? I'm not opposed to bicycles, but $1.1 million is a lot. ... I don't know if we (can) come legitimately to our community and say we are behind a project of this size, with this amount of money involved at this present time."
In the end, Griffith Company will use $1,061,601 to work on more than a mile of bicycle path. No city General Fund money is expected to be used. A total of $360,000 comes from the Transportation Development Act, and the rest from leftover Redevelopment Agency bonds.
The project is slated to begin in three to four weeks and will include extensive work to a culvert underneath the bike path. This assures water flow in case of a flood or for excess water. The labor must be paid at prevailing wage, as is required by law.
Members of the public also shared their opinion, with most in favor for the new development.
"If we have the opportunity to recruit that money and bring it back here, why would we not? Why would we not make a safe corridor for people to get to work, who can't afford cars, who are right out of high school working their first job out at the truck stop, out of the new truck stop," Ken Wright said. "It supports the truck stops and helps us support the people who work there. It's a lot of money, but that's the cost of business of being in the city, in the State of California."