On Feb. 12 at 11 a.m., the City of Davis dedicated a new bike path and tunnel located near the recently opened New Harmony Mutual Housing Community in South Davis. City officials and residents were in attendance.
The tunnel that connects to the bike path was originally installed in 1990, but had been buried because funding was not available to develop it. The tunnel is located under Drummond Avenue and connects to the city’s existing network of bike paths.
“It’s amazing that back then they had a foresight to place a metal pipe under the road,” said Bob Bowen, City of Davis public relations manager. “The New Harmony Project provided funding that was able to connect the bike tunnel to the low-income housing development so families and kids can ride their bikes.”
Funding for the tunnel and improvements to the bike path were shared by city funding, grant funds and developer funds from New Harmony. It was a requirement by the city for the developers of New Harmony to contribute to funding the bike tunnel. The total project cost was $424,990.
New Harmony Mutual Housing Community is located at 3030 Cowell Blvd. Danielle Foster, City of Davis housing program manager, said residents started moving in on Feb. 1 and is about two-thirds occupied already.
Also considered an environmentally-friendly development, it is one of the first certified green developments of the Mutual Housing construction company. Construction began in 2011.
Dave Kemp, the City of Davis active transportation coordinator, said the tunnel will provide access to 50 miles of bike paths in the city.
The Davis bicycle network covers approximately 10 miles in the city and the new tunnel will be another grade-separated bicycle crossing in Davis. The City of Davis now has 20 bike tunnels and another nine bridges that contribute to the overall bicycle path network.
“It’s a significant east-west connection across Davis and it connects all the way to Dave Pelz bridge in East Davis,” Kemp said.
At the dedication ceremony, former city engineer Will Marshall recounted Davis’ history with bike paths. Davis was the first city to build official bike lanes in 1967. As a result, it has been a model for many other U.S cities in developing a safe, integrated network of bike paths in a city.
Additionally, Davis’ bicycle transportation network was named the first Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community in 2005 by the League of American Bicyclists.
The U.S. Census Bureau showed that Davis has the highest number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. About 22.1 percent of the population commutes to school and work on bicycles.
“The tunnel will bring new life and development to land that has been vacant for a long time,” Foster said. “It’s a better connection to South Davis, downtown and campus for the residents of the affordable housing units, and provides them with an alternate mode of transportation.”
PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.