Jan. 29, 2013
Hannah Guzik, OVN correspondent
Meiners Oaks Elementary students will soon have a safer route to school thanks to a county project to add bike lanes to West Lomita Avenue.
The resurfacing and widening project will begin Feb. 11.
“I absolutely think it will help with students that commute to school by foot and by bus,” said Meiners Oaks Elementary principal Dawn Damianos. “Since there’s no designated area for bikes to be riding right now, I think it isn’t very safe.”
More than 50 students walk or ride their bikes to school each morning, and those numbers increase on Wednesdays, when the school encourages students to use alternative transportation. “Our crosswalk is a busy place in the morning,” Damianos said.
There haven’t been any major crashes or injuries in the area in recent years, according to the county.
The project includes repaving West Lomita Avenue between South Lomita Avenue and Rice Road and creating bike lanes on that portion of the road up to about a block from the school.
“This improved bike connection between Meiners Oaks school and the neighborhoods along Rice Road is something that the school PTO and community members have requested, and so the county sought grants for the project,” Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett said.
Between Feb. 11 and Feb. 28 crews will widen West Lomita Avenue from La Luna Avenue to 90 feet south of Besant Road. The street will be repaved in early March and the project should be finished by the end of March, according to Bennett’s office. Traffic on parts of West Lomita Avenue will be restricted to half of the roadway during the pavement widening and overlay, Bennett’s office said. One lane will be open at all times, with flagmen directing traffic.
Oxnard’s Toro Enterprises is doing the construction, which will cost about $335,000, Bennett’s office said. The entire cost of the project, including previous environmental surveying and engineering work, is $582,218, according to the county. A federal Congestion Management and Air Quality grant provided $238,000 for the project, and the rest of the funding is coming from the County Road Fund.
The bike lanes and street widening may also help boost businesses in the area, said David Skaggs, owner of The Ranch House restaurant, which is at the corner of West Lomita and South Lomita avenues.
“I think it’ll be great for everybody — residents as well,” he said. “It’s certainly good to improve Meiners Oaks. This will be another step forward.”
West Lomita Avenue is a well-traveled street because it runs between Highway 33 and Rice Road, Skaggs said.
“Any improvement there is going to be magnificent,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the work starting.”
The bike lanes will connect to those recently created on South Lomita Avenue, which lead to the school.
The county also plans to extend the Meiners Oaks bike lane about a mile south of Lomita Avenue, creating a seamless route to school for students who live in the Rice Road neighborhood.
At Bennett’s request, the county moved that project to the top of its list for bike-lane improvements, although it still must find funding for the work, he said.
“This would complete the bike lane between the school and the Rice Road neighborhoods, and also provide a safer route for cyclists into and out of Meiners Oaks,” he said.
The county is also working to install sidewalks between El Roblar Drive and the school. Construction on that project should begin by the end of this year, according to Bennett’s office.
“These projects will all fit together to make Meiners Oaks a more rideable and walkable community and support bike riding around the valley,” Bennett said.
Jan. 29, 2013