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Air Board funds improvements

The San Joaquin Valley Air District Board has approved a couple of plans that propose improvements in Shafter.

As a result of the work of the AB617 Committee, which has been working for five years to improve the city's air quality, there will be sidewalks in North Shafter, beginning at Apple Market and will go north past Fresno Avenue. This addition are intended to improve the safety of the roads in the area, protecting pedestrians and children as they walk along the stretch of Central Valley Highway that runs north and south.

According to Lynnda Martin, a member of the committee, the move will greatly improve the neighborhoods and will help give parents a peace of mind when it comes to the safety of their children. "We have worked long and hard for this, and the sidewalks will be such a great improvement," said Martin.

The funding for the project is part of the AB617 budget, and the project has already gone before a firm that will design the improvements, to begin in the summer of 2024.

In other action at the meeting, Martin, along with Public Works Director Michael James, testified about the need for a bike path that will wind through the city, further providing additional safety for those who choose to ride their bicycles in town. "There are a lot of cyclists in Shafter, and this will be great for the community, as well as the air quality," commented Maritn. The path will connect all of the schools in the city of Shafter, with the bike path making it possible for riders to make it around town without having to stray off of the path." This will not only be great for the kids and adults who ride their bikes, it will also help the air quality by reducing the emissions from motorized vehicles," added Martin.

These are just two projects that the committee has been working on for Shafter, which was designated as a Disadvantaged Community by the State Air Board when the committee was founded. They also are working on a project that would include a charging station downtown for electric vehicles and also a station that would make electric cars available for residents to rent. These would be for residents who do not have cars but still need to go shopping, or doctors' appointments, without putting more emissions into the air with gas-burning vehicles.

Altogether, the projects are estimated to have a cost of about $2.5 million.


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