Construction will begin on routes in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella as well as unincorporated Riverside County.
Sherry BarkasPalm Springs Desert Sun
Construction is expected to begin in December on another 20 miles of the CV Link biking and jogging path now that $52.733 million worth of contracts has been authorized.
The Coachella Valley Association of Governments executive and transportation committees on Monday authorized CVAG Executive Director Tom Kirk to negotiate construction contracts with Ames Construction Inc., the lowest qualified bidder. Contracts also were authorized for Alta Planning & Design and Terra Nova Planning and Research.
CVAG is the lead agency for creation of the CV Link, a cross-valley pathway for walkers, joggers, cyclists and small electric vehicle operators, which runs mostly along the Whitewater channel.
CV Link ultimately will span more than 40 miles at an estimated cost of $100 million. The project is being funded through various grants and Measure A transportation funds and a $10 grant from the Desert Healthcare District.
Initially planned as a 50-plus-mile long path, connecting the valley’s nine cities and unincorporated areas of Riverside County from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea, the cities of Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells have opted out of the project based on guidance from voters. Desert Hot Springs is still undecided.
“This has been a long time coming and construction of this magnitude frankly couldn’t come at a better time,” CVAG Executive Director Tom Kirk said of the project that has been planned since 2011.
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown how vital it is for a community to have access to safe routes for walking, biking or riding in low-speed neighborhood electric vehicles. CV Link, and active transportation projects like it are wide enough to allow for social distancing while encouraging people stay active and stay healthy,” he said.
A start date for the new construction will depend on how quickly the contractor can get the crews mobilized, CVAG spokesperson Erica Felci said.
“We’re hoping for December,” she said. “Multiple segments will be under construction at the same time so sections will be done at various stages.
“We expect the buildout of the work under this contract will be around 18 to 24 months,” Felci said.
“As we acquire more right of way, we will pursue construction contracts for the remaining segments so there could be additional work starting in that timeframe as well,” she said.Get the News Alerts newsletter in your inbox.
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Running adjacent to or near commercial and retail centers and schools, the project is viewed by supporters as offering an alternative transportation route while also offering a safe path to walk, jog, bike or use low-speed electric vehicles, such as golf carts.
To date, 3.5 miles of CV Link has been built in Cathedral City and Palm Springs.
Palm Desert recently started construction on a portion of its 3.5- to 4-mile path, along Park View Drive, at an estimated cost of $5.5 million that will ultimately be reimbursed by CVAG.
George Frank was out riding his bike along the Cathedral City-built stretch of CV Link on Tuesday morning.
An avid user of the path, Frank said he has biked the 2-mile stretch every day since March 16, clocking about 3,500 miles.
“I can’t wait till they add more,” Frank said.
The contract approved with Ames Construction on Monday will build CV Link paths in the cities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella as well as unincorporated Riverside County.
This stage of construction includes bridges and undercrossings, which are a key safety feature that will allow the CV Link users to go under major roadways in order to avoid traditional vehicular traffic, but are more expensive to build than straight stretches of CV Link that get built on the top of the stormwater levee, Felci said.
The project will provide jobs and an economic boost needed in the Coachella Valley and surrounding region, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that every dollar spent on infrastructure produced an economic benefit of up to $2.20, and the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers has calculated that $1 billion of transportation infrastructure investment supports 13,000 jobs for a year, Kirk said.
Based on these calculations, the $52.7 million investment into CV Link will produce an economic benefit of over $116 million, and support more than 685 jobs for a year, Kirk said.
For more on CV Link, go online to coachellavalleylink.com.