20 September 2016

The frustration of waiting for CV Link

CV Link history

Over a decade and a half, I have watched with hope—and frustration—the developing plans for a regional bikeway in the Coachella Valley.
  • In 2002, in response to growing demand by cyclists, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) prepared a non-motorized transportation plan for the Coachella Valley. This plan proposed a grid of Class II and III bike trails and sidewalk trails that would connect to the proposed Whitewater River Trail and All American Canal Trail. In the CVAG plan, the Whitewater River Trail served as the spine of the bikeway system, as well as providing a recreational trail for walkers and, potentially, equestrians.

  • The County of Riverside Department of Public Health, in collaboration with several trails and bicycle groups, identified and developed the Coachella Valley Urban Trails and Bikeways Map of safe routes for riders and hikers in the Coachella Valley.

  • Gradually, trail and bikeway maps were included in General Plans for all local jurisdictions, and trail maps have been prepared for developments in the unincorporated areas of Vista Santa Rosa, Mecca, and Thermal. The plans' key element was to identify potential Class I trail locations along the Whitewater River and the All American Canal. These trails would connect the north-south oriented grid of Class II Bikeways and sidewalk trails identified in the earlier CVAG and county plans. The CVAG plan also identified a bicycle route along the length of the Dillon Road corridor, where bicyclists currently ride.

  • In 2007, as a next step in planning the trail system in the Coachella Valley, the Desert Recreation District and the Riverside County Regional Parks and Open Space District commissioned studies related to identify trail alignments along the Whitewater River, All American Canal, and the Dillon Road corridors.

  • With the publication of Whitewater River, All American Canal and Dillon Road Regional Trails Corridor Study at the end of 2009, I began to hope that the Coachella Valley might begin to fill the lack I felt in comparing the area to Dayton, Ohio and other small cities with regional bike and pedestrian paths.

  • After another set of publications followed, "Parkway 1e1 1 Executive Summary" in early 2012, Whitewater River/Parkway 1e11 NEV/Bike/Pedestrian Corridor Preliminary Study Report also in early 2012, and "Parkway 1e1 1 FAQ" in late 2013, I felt that the planning had progressed toward actual routing.

  • With the preliminary publication of CV/Link Master Plan in its three volumes in March 2015 and the final approved publication of CV/Link Conceptual Master Plan in January 2016, I felt that waiting a year or so for a valley-wide, multi-use trail would seem to be a short time.

Rancho Mirage

However, the Rancho Mirage city commission has now carried out a long campaign to slow down implementation, object to any proposed routing through their community, fret about whether arranged funding is legal, and quibble about the costs to maintain and operate the facilities. They have sought to obstruct the CV Link by asking for city-wide votes on the project, when never have they placed other transportation issues before their voters. For that matter, the city erected a new library ($16.6 million), developed a park and amphitheater complex ($3.9 million to $4.2 million), built a new high school ($100 million), opened a dog park ($1.75 million), and planned an astronomy observatory ($1.7 million) without placing those expenditures to a vote. (Total: almost $124 million.)

Over the last year, the Rancho Mirage city commissioners have sought to sow discord in the Coachella Valley Association of Governments and to incite obstruction similar to theirs in other cities. At this point, they have been successful in this effort in only one other constituent of CVAG, the City of Indian Wells.

Update 2016.10.04

Cathedral City

It is happening. Cathedral City will break ground on the first segment in Fall 2016. Granted, this is to construct "only" the first 1.5 miles from Vista Chino to Ramon. The agreement between Palm Springs and Cathedral City has been drafted, revised, and signed. Other segments are being fleshed out and application of funding is being specified.

I have recently moved here from Dayton Ohio, which is host to a dedicated network of multi-use paths that serves over 30 communities and 9 counties. Extended paths connect (or ne
arly so) to Columbus and Cincinnati.

The devleopment of the 350-mile network did not happen overnight. It wasn't even planned at first to be more than a few miles. Instead, it grew from an initial 7-mile loop that followed the river through the Dayton downtown. That start was in 1996. It was only a few years ago that some stick-in-the-mud communities accepted the need of providing a bikeway within their city limits to connect to bikeways that existed in cities on either side. The current naysayers of Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells will not have eternal control of the cities' development.

Take heart!
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