HOLTVILLE — The city of Holtville was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the state to help convert the fire-damaged Alamo River Trestle Bridge into a part of the city’s existing trail system.
The funds will be used to repair the more than 100-year-old bridge and install decking and handrails to allow for pedestrian, bicycle, and equestrian use.
“One of the keys reasons that we were able to get these funds was that it was part of an existing trail system, and we’ll ultimately be able to connect it to the wetlands,” contract city planner Jeorge Galvan said during the City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 14.
In its grant application to the California Natural Resources Agency, the city had highlighted how the bridge’s renovation and conversion to a trail would help expand its Pete Mellinger Alamo River Trail.
Plans call for the creation of a fork in the trail under the trestle bridge that will allow users to continue along the top of the bridge to follow the Alamo River for about half a mile and eventually arrive at the proposed site of the city’s wetlands project.
“This would be a spur to a different route,” City Manager Nick Wells said following the council meeting. “It’s been a priority to get it fixed for some time.”
Landscaping, benches, and signage will be installed on the trail pathway leading to the trestle bridge, according to the city planning reports.
All told, the city will utilize the $1,262,000 grant from the CNRA’s Recreational Trails and Gateway Grant Program, as well as an additional $720,000 the city was awarded from a settlement following a fire that damaged the city-owned trestle bridge more than 15 years ago.
City officials are expected to have further discussions with CNRA officials in the coming months and expend funds in either March or April for the project’s design and engineering, which is expected to take three to four months. Construction would likely start shortly after the completion of the design process, Wells said.
The city also recently submitted its design for the $3 million wetlands project to the county, and pending the results of a renewed biological survey, will be applying for a construction permit soon, Wells told the council during its meeting.
The wetlands project would help improve the Alamo River’s water quality by acting as a natural filtration system, while creating habitat for birds and other wildlife.
The project is some 15 years in the making, and in 2016 received a $2.85 million grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to help fund the project. It has recently been delayed by the design firm of George Cairo Engineering being behind schedule and the overall impact of COVID-19, Wells said.
During its meeting Monday, the council also authorized the city to apply for a state Local Early Action Plan (LEAP) grant that would be used to update the city’s housing element.
Cities across the state are required to update their housing elements every eight years, and this year $119 million in funding has been made available by the state to help assist cities with the endeavor, Galvan said.
The city is qualified for a grant of up to $65,000 and no less than $25,000 based on its population of less than 20,000. The housing element is a comprehensive plan that cities use to detail their planning for residential needs.
Once funds are received, the city can begin the procurement process to retain the services of a consultant to complete the housing element update.
“The updates will assist the City of Holtville in making efforts to create more housing to be consistent with the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) target and accelerate the production of diverse housing opportunities,” the council meeting’s agenda report stated.
The agenda report further stated that the state Department of Finance recently reported that Holtville experienced a 2 percent housing unit growth, attributed to the recent addition of 41 single-family homes.
And while the city has a handful of pending multi-family residential projects, that “will do little to diversify housing unit stock,” the city’s LEAP application stated.