Fresno

Fresno hits a speed bump en route to achieving public transportation synergy

You’ve got to hand it to Fresno’s Department of Transportation. It knows that to succeed in this rough and tumble world, you’ve got to play both sides of the street.

For proof, take a look at Thursday’s City Council agenda.

We start with a recommendation from Transportation Director Greg Barfield that the Council reject all bids received so far for something called the FAX Shaw Avenue Traffic Signal Priority Intersection Installation Equipment Project. Barfield’s plan is rebid the project.

According to the staff report, this project is designed to “improve bus service and schedule adherence along the Shaw Avenue corridor between Willow Avenue and Polk Avenue.” This is to be done by the installation of traffic signal priority technology that gives “preferential treatment to buses that are running behind schedule. This will be achieved by creating a longer/shorter green light at the intersection, improving the buses’ ability to maintain and achieve schedule adherence.”

The city expected the project to cost no more than $155,250. Just one bid was submitted. It came from a Chino-based company. The bid was for nearly $180,000. On top of that, city officials deemed the bid to be “non-responsive.” In other words, the bid didn’t meet all of City Hall’s requirements.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for the city’s transportation experts. The hope is a reworked package will attract more than one bidder.

Barfield on Thursday also will ask the Council to approve a contract with Fresno City College for a Measure C New Technology grant. The grant of nearly $1.2 million has been awarded by the Fresno County Transportation Authority. It is for Fresno City College’s West Fresno Satellite Campus Advanced Propulsion Systems Training Campus Project.

Says the staff report: “The vehicle industry has a shortage of skilled technicians trained to maintain today’s complex automotive propulsion systems. To address this shortfall, this project will develop curriculum and training equipment/aids to educate current and future vehicle technicians on advanced vehicle propulsion systems including battery-electric and other zero-emission vehicles. The curriculum will compliment FCC’s existing automotive certification programs which are to be relocated to the new West Fresno Satellite Campus.”

Transportation is a complicated policy issue.

On one hand, City Hall wants to make public transportation a viable option for a bigger share of the transportation market. That is key to making a success of transit-oriented development, something dear to state officials. Thus, we have plans to give FAX buses working the long and busy Shaw Corridor from Willow in the east to Polk in the west a guaranteed break when it comes to hitting green lights.

On the other hand, we Fresnans – no, make that we Americans – love our cars, regardless of the type of fuel that propels them. Fixing those propulsion systems means jobs.

As Mayor Lee Brand knows, Fresno needs all the jobs it can get.

George Hostetter
George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.