Through a collaborative effort from political leaders, the city of Santa Clarita secured $1.3 million to support its Safe Routes to School, a citywide initiative to improve infrastructure for students and others walking and biking to schools.
The offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, and Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, were all sent a funding request by city officials, and they were able to secure the funding in 2022 through the Appropriations Act, according to Masis Hagobian, governmental relations officer for the city of Santa Clarita.
According to Hagobian, community funding requests only started at the congressional level in 2021 after a 10-year break, and it was previously known as earmarks.
“So, 2021 was this new revamped district-based funding request, where members of Congress, both in the Senate and the House of Representatives, would have an opportunity to submit requests for community-based funding projects,” Hagobian said.
Members of Congress receive feedback from their respective districts and work closely with cities, counties, and transportation agencies to identify projects that were “close to shovel ready” and would be excellent candidates to receive federal investments.
“For us, we had several conversations with Garcia’s staff, and we worked back and forth in trying to identify projects that would fit the mold,” Hagobian said. “Advancements in infrastructure for transportation are a pretty big priority for really everybody.”
“So, coupled with Safe Routes to School, there’s an interest or priority to increase traffic safety and pedestrian safety, especially around our schools,” he added.
The Safe Routes to Schools plan was developed in June 2021, and it outlines several improvements around schools regarding traffic and pedestrian safety, according to the city of Santa Clarita. Hagobian said the city has identified areas of improvement after various analyses.
Placerita Junior High School and Hart High School are two specific areas that the funding request would go toward, he added.
“The project itself, the $1.3 million coupled with local dollars, would provide curb extension to essentially narrow the pathway across the street from the intersections near Placerita Junior High and Hart High,” Hagobian said. “Also, high-visibility crosswalks to essentially enhance the visibility of students, faculty and parents, who happen to be crossing within those pathways.”
According to city officials, the Safe Routes to School plan is one of those “feel good” projects, and they appreciate the bipartisan support to invest in pedestrian and school safety.