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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. 

Heather Heinks / City of Fresno General Plan Update

The Fresno City Council is scheduled to hear public comments on the city’s new 2035 general plan in meeting at the Convention Center this evening. The move is the last step before a vote next week on the document that will chart the city’s growth for decades to come.

City planning director Jennifer Clark says the new General Plan attempts to answer a question that has perplexed city leaders for decades:

Anil Verma Associates / Fresno FAX

  The Fresno City Council has approved a revised version of a controversial plan for express bus service, known as Bus Rapid Transit. The council voted 6-1 Thursday to spend $1.5 million to fund design and engineering work for the $38 million project.

Much like the earlier proposal for Bus Rapid Transit, the new line will feature express bus service on Blackstone and Kings Canyon Avenues.

Anil Verma Associates / Fresno FAX

The Fresno City Council is set to debate a proposal tonight to bring a hi-tech express bus line to city. But as FM89’s Joe Moore reports, the $50 million federal grant that would fund the project is generating some controversy.
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The proposal calls for new high capacity express bus service, known as Bus Rapid Transit, to be built along Blackstone and Kings Canyon Avenues in Fresno. The new bus line would replace existing FAX service on those routes and would decrease travel time for riders by as much as an hour and a half in some cases.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 

Around 40 activists, health advocates and bus riders rallied in Central Fresno Thursday urging the Fresno City Council to support an improved bus system.

Bus Rapid Transit would be a network of busses that would reduce travel time on major corridors like Blackstone Avenue by having fewer stops, pre-boarding fare collection and priority traffic signals. Fifty million dollars in federal and state funding has already been allocated which will pay for construction and the first three years of operation.

EPA.gov

A federal effort to cut red tape and better use existing  resources to help economically struggling cities like Fresno is beginning to pay off, according to Obama administration officials. 

In a statement issued Thursday, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz praised the "Strong Cities, Strong Communities" (SC2) program for supporting communities like Fresno.

This week on Valley Edition, we learn more about a new report which shows that on average, Valley counties send more inmates to prison and jail than the rest of the state. What does this mean for county budgets as realignment is moving many of those inmates from state prisons to county jails? We also discuss the merits of public defenders in California, as Fresno County is likely to place a measure before voters this fall which could make it easier to outsource the county’s public defender jobs to private attorneys.

Segment 1: There's no doubt that Californians love their cars, and the Central Valley is no exception. But with rising fuel prices, the struggling economy, and a desire to be more environmentally friendly, many Valley residents and leaders are looking at mass transit as an option. Last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that President Obama’s proposed budget sets aside $18 million to help fund a new "bus rapid transit" system for Fresno. Called by many "light rail on rubber wheels," this new "BRT" system would be the first system of its kind in the Valley.