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Blackstone

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Fresno is California’s largest city without a light rail system. With the city’s sprawling nature and ample parking lots, efforts to bring rapid transit to the area have never taken off. One other reason – light rail is really expensive. Now, Fresno officials hope to bring some of the elements of those commuter trains to the city’s bus system at a much more affordable price tag. It’s a concept that around the world is called bus rapid transit – or light rail on wheels. We looked at the latest addition to Fresno Area Express service by talking to the people who use it.

Kathy Bonilla / Fresno City College

Over the next decade the Fresno City College campus could undergo a big change, thanks to a major construction project. Around half of the $485 bond known as Measure C is dedicated for the campus. Voters approved the funding last year which will provide a new home for the school's math and science programs as well as badly needed parking space. College President Carole Goldsmith joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the plans, and how the school hopes to work with neighbors to make them a success, and efforts to tap into the city's goal of revitalizing Blackstone Avenue. 

It’s not every day that the mayor of Fresno and city councilmember attend the opening of a grocery store, but that was the scene this morning at a new Smart and Final on Blackstone Avenue.

The location grocery store was the center of a heated political debate earlier this year between Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Councilmember Clint Olivier, who both chose to attend the opening.

The store is moving into a building left vacant when previous grocery store went out of business.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

It’s one of the most maligned stretches of road in Fresno, Blackstone Avenue. With a reputation for being dangerous, unwelcoming, and rundown. But city leaders say they have a plan to fix it, and it starts with a bus. However, not everyone is convinced the avenue can be improved.

It’s not hard to get a sense of what many people think of Blackstone Avenue.

Just ask one simple question of people in Fresno: Would you take a walk down Blackstone?

“No, because I don’t want to be considered as one of those little street walkers,”

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno's Blackstone Avenue has seen better days. A drive down the six lane strip of asphalt that stretches from downtown past ramshackle used car lots and abandoned storefronts all the way to the booming River Park area on the northside, can tell you a lot about where the city has been and where it is headed.