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A 2,600-foot segment on Anza Road that runs parallel with the border fence between Andrade Avenue and East Rivera Street will be paved as part of a dust-mitigation grant. | GOOGLE MAP IMAGE

Calexico Details Year-old Alley Paving Project

City Council Approves $3.35M Funding Agreement to Fight Dust Pollution by Covering 3.5 Miles of Paths

CALEXICO — More than a year after a $3.35 million federal grant was awarded to the city of Calexico through the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District, the public got a chance to hear a little more detail on how some 3.5 miles of unpaved alleys will be covered to tamp down dust pollution.

Forty new segments of dusty pathways, which includes nearly 3,300 linear feet of roadway (also defined as “extreme-use alleyway”), will be among those areas covered by the project that was OK’d by the Calexico City Council, 3-0, on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The scope of work and funding agreement approved by the council must next go to the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, which sits as the Air Pollution Control District board.

The award, which totals $3,350,371, is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019/2020 Targeted Airshed Grant Program. The county and city were informed that the grant application had been approved in October 2020. The tentative approval was first announced by District 1 Supervisor Jesus Escobar in September 2020.

Calexico Planning and Building Service Director Lisa Tylenda (left) discusses an alley-paving project in which the city will utilize a $3.35 million Environmental Protection Agency grant to pave 40 segments of dusty alleys and utility roads. | VIDEO CAPTURE

“One of the big, big, big issues that has been a long-standing issue in the city is air quality in our region,” City Manager Miguel Figueroa said on Wednesday night. “One of the things that allowed for this grant to be considered and approved by EPA is the partnership between the Air Pollution Control District and the city of Calexico to specifically tackle that matter by paving the multiple alleys that we have in our city that are either unpaved or in bad condition.”

City Planning and Building Services Director Lisa Tylenda explained that some 3.46 miles of unpaved alleyway will be worked on in three phases, to include 38 alleys and what she described as two roadways, but what Figueroa termed last year as “extreme-use alleyways” due to their functions.

Some 2,596 linear feet of Anza Road between Andrade Avenue and East Rivera Street and 675 linear feet of “Seventh Street” between Pierce Avenue and Cesar Chavez Boulevard will get asphalt pavement. The 38 alleys will be covered with Class II base, which is a blend of crushed aggregate that is tightly compacted.

The “extreme-use alleyways” are near high-traffic areas used by city crews in the case of Pierce, which is at the entrance to the Public Works yard on the west side, and the U.S. Border Patrol, which uses that length of Anza to patrol the international border fence.

A 675-foot length of access road from Pierce to Cesar Chavez Boulevard near the city Public Works yard will be paved to cut down on dust pollution as part of a federal grant through the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District. | GOOGLE MAP IMAGE

“I feel like this is long overdue,” council member Rosie Arreola Fernandez said.

Mayor Pro Tem Camilo Garcia asked for Tylenda to explain further some of the locations of the work. She went into some of the larger parts of the projects, such as the two roads, but said it is difficult trying show the residents the alleys without the photos and maps that staff are working from.

Figueroa said that once the funding agreement is approved by the county board, the city will include maps and more detailed explanations of the project to be done in phases in the January or February water bill, “so the community can put it up on their fridge, and they know exactly what’s going to get done,” he added.

Twenty-two alleys will be done in phases one and two, listed as the “East” and “Downtown” zones. Phase three will include 16 alleys in the “West” zone. Anza Road is listed as its own project on the list in the planning department’s staff report.

Project is specifically intended to reduce the amount of particulate matter 2.5 and 10 in the environment, the fine particles that can get into lungs and cause breathing problems for asthmatics.

The work is likely many months from occurring as the city would have to advertise for bids, select a bid and hire a contractor over several months before any work would commence.

The EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grant Program assists local air pollution control agencies with funding to develop plans and implement projects to reduce air pollution in the nation’s areas with the highest levels of ozone and PM2.5 concentrations. The county air district was eligible to apply to the TAG Program due to Imperial County’s designation as a PM2.5 “Nonattainment Area” for the 2012 annual standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter, according to a county press release in October 2020.

The county Air Pollution District’s support of the project ties into the district’s efforts through the local Assembly Bill 617 program to reduce exposure to air pollution in disproportionately burdened communities in California through implementing statewide strategies and community-specific reduction programs, according to the district release. The air district formed a partnership with environmental justice organization, Comite Civico Del Valle, to nominate the El Centro-Heber-Calexico corridor and establish a community steering committee to address pollution within the corridor.

City Spends $200K on Bucket Truck

If buying a bucket truck was on the city’s bucket list, everyone can now die happy.

The City Council approved the $199,068 purchase by a 3-0 vote; council members Gloria Romo and Raul Ureña walked out of the meeting shortly after it started.

A 2021 Ford F-550 work truck equipped with a Dur-A-Lift DTAX2-44FP aerial lift with a 24-inch by 30-inch basket capable of reach a maximum height of 49 feet will be bought from PB Loader Corp. under a cooperative purchasing agreement the city Public Works Department is in that allows it to circumvent the bidding process.

City Manager Figueroa said the city belongs to several cooperative agreements in order to make capital purchases.

In the past, Figueroa said council members Fernandez and Garcia have talked about long-standing issues such as the dearth of lighting in downtown, and he said this purchase allows Public Works to address “the light issue in downtown” without the need for the city to hire third-party contractors to come in and fix lights or change bulbs that previously exceeded the heights city equipment could reach.

In general, Public Works staff will utilize the truck to repair street lights throughout the city, park and field lights, traffic signals and any other repairs that required hydraulic boom extension, according to a staff report.

“I think this is a great tool we’re in dire need of,” Garcia said, not just for lights but to address overgrown palm trees in the city that could present fire hazards and make a mess.

“In case of a natural disaster, this comes in handy,” Figueroa said.

The purchase was previously deferred expense in the fiscal 2021-2022 budget that was funded again after a first-quarter budget amendment in mid-October.

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