Good news came to the city of Hollister and Hollister School District on New Year’s Eve as the entities learned that they had been awarded a long-awaited grant to build a sidewalk by the high school.

    City Administrator Rick Ziegenfuss said during a school board meeting Tuesday that the city district and city had been awarded a grant from the Transportation Alternative Program, which will provide funds for the construction of approximately 5,000 feet of 5-foot-wide concrete sidewalk.

    “The total project costs is $221,900,” Ziegenfuss said. “Of that, the federal grant pays $177,500 and then the remainder of that amount is matching funds.”

    With 80 percent of the costs coming from federal funds, Ziegenfuss said the other 20 percent will be split between the city and school district.

    Currently, Hollister students walking to school do not have a designated route or path, Ziegenfuss said.

    “There presents a dilemma for them to cross a state highway,” Ziegenfuss said. “It’s a safety challenge we have recognized for a long time.”

    The city had applied before for the safety grant, Ziegenfuss  said, but it took some time before the grant came through.

    “We had not received it because there are far more requests than there are funds,” Ziegenfuss said. “Bottom line was there are a lot of areas in need.”

    Assistant Superintendent to District Operations Sean Woods said it is “phenomenal” that the Hollister city and school were awarded the grant.

    “It was just a huge win for us,” Woods said.

    The sidewalk will extend from the entrance off BB Highway near the middle school, and then go to Kays Lane, Ziegenfuss said.

    “There are crosswalks planned for immediately across from the school, one at Cedar Lane, Jane Street and Kays Lane,” Ziegenfuss said. “We are going to extend a sidewalk along White River Boulevard — the east side — to the entrance to White River Mountain Apartments.”

    Ziegenfuss said the sidewalks will help both pedestrians and drivers, from student drivers to those commuting to work.

    “There’s a mix of drivers there,” Ziegenfuss said. “There’s a great deal of traffic there. It is a factor in helping with the traffic flow.”

    In addition to aiding traffic flow, Ziegenfuss said the sidewalks will provide a better route for students rather than students cutting through other ways, such as through personal property.

    Ziegenfuss said it is important to note that it wasn’t just the city and school that helped get the grant.

    “Many residents submitted support,” Ziegenfuss said. “It is a good cooperative.”

    Not only will a sidewalk be coming to the area but its construction will also bring jobs, Ziegenfuss said.

    “Another thing that we don’t want to forget about is that this puts a lot of people to work,” Ziegenfuss said.

    Before construction may take place, Ziegenfuss said several things have to happen.

    “To administer federal funds, you have to have people go to school,” Ziegenfuss said. “Those kinds of projects are an investment in our long-term future just as it is immediate.

    “There’s a lot of steps to go but they’re all doable by end of school or by June.”

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