Tuesday evening, the City of Bakersfield held its Niles and Monterey Complete Street Project community meeting to collect community input on the changes they’d like to see implemented on these streets as the project progresses.
“The City of Bakersfield has made a commitment, a historic commitment, to invest in this neighborhood in a significant way over the long term,” stated Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonzales. “And we’re calling this investment the Prosperity Neighborhood Project. We want every single person to not just live in East Bakersfield, but to thrive.”
This project is a community-driven project that was initiated from the Monterey/Niles Prosperity Neighborhood Summit that was held in 2022 after working with stakeholders to identify key challenges and opportunities to improve the area.
The Prosperity Neighborhood Project will be working on both Monterey and Niles Street from Alta Vista Drive to Virginia Street. During this community meeting, the public was invited to share their thoughts and what changes they would like to see made while also being able to ask questions about the project’s process.
In order to address speeding on Monterey Street, the City will be narrowing the street down by 10 feet in order to reduce speeding and use the extra space to build a protected bike lane and/or bus-only lanes. Additionally, both Monterey and Niles Streets will be converted into two-lane streets, the extra space will be used for wider sidewalks and protected bike lanes.
By reducing the number of car lanes on these streets, the City hopes to add more protections and stated: “Three lane roads give drivers the idea to speed. Two-lane roads force drives to drive a little slower.”
Other improvements that community members can expect in these neighborhoods include:
- More street lights
- Visible crosswalks
- Tree trimming
- Speed bumps
“The only way to reduce speeding is through physical infrastructure. Not signs, not flashing lights, not paint, not blaming pedestrians. We need narrower lanes and more landscaping/hardscaping to make drivers feel on edge so that they slow down and don’t seriously injure or kill our neighbors,” one commenter said. “I propose that the driving lanes on Niles and Monterey get reduced to 10 feet and we use the extra space to add a protected, class 4 bike lane on both sides and/or a bus-only lane that is 11 feet wide.”
The project aims to enhance the safety and mobility on Niles and Monterey Street in East Bakersfield as these corridors were identified as local and regional priorities in the City of Bakersfield Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Plan as well as the Kern Region Active Transportation Plan.
The Prosperity Neighborhood Project has four tiers in its revitalization framework, with tier one mentioning city infrastructure investments that will include walkability improvement projects, enhanced crosswalks, street and alley pavement, and bike lanes.
Tier two will invest in private property improvements including a Facade Improvement Program, infill development, home rehabilitation, and blighted property acquisition. Tier three will create economic opportunity to move families out of poverty by creating asset-building strategies and wealth building, and partnerships with trade schools, colleges, and universities.
Tier four will create opportunities by raising the quality of life indices by investing in early childhood education to improve the literacy rate, collaborating with Public Health and other partners to improve wellness, and creating community capacity through partnerships with local community-based organizations.
The project is currently in its preliminary engineering and concept analysis phase and has a focus on creating a safer corridor that will encourage multi-modal transportation through the addition of a cycle track, enhanced signage and striping, curb extensions, and other traffic calming elements.
The public is invited to continue to provide their direct input on the City’s Public Coordinate website located here.