When the Ridgecrest City Council meets Wednesday, one of the items on the agenda is potentially approving a letter in support of Mike Sinnott's Four Projects. But what exactly are these projects?

The idea was brought by Sinnott to the City Organization and Services Committee at their meeting on Sept. 12. The committee supported Sinnott and his ideas and directed staff to bring council a letter of conceptual support for the projects.

The idea behind the projects is hopefully to enhance the quality of life in the Indian Wells Valley.  They are reportedly located within the jurisdictions of several governmental agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, Caltrans, Kern County and the city of Ridgecrest.

The proposed projects are as follows:

Highway 395 Cabana Project

This would include cabanas and a tourist information kiosk on the Highway 395 trailhead and cabanas at four Bureau of Land Management off-highway vehicle Roadheads entering the Rademacher Hills recreation area.

The Four Projects listing describes this one as follows:

“Nice shady Cabanas on Highway 395 at the BLM Brown Road Trailhead, with a cool Tourist Information Kiosk. The four BLM Roadheads leading into the Rademacher Hills recreation area will also be improved with Cabanas and other site improvements. These Cabanas will mark the endpoints [of the] new SafeRoute combined Bike and OHV paths. The sign component of the project will include 'Tourist Info Ahead' signs on Highway 395 as well as BLM Trailhead and OHV signs. This Project will be funded in large part by grants, donations and community events, and will include desert cleanup and site improvements at all five trailheads.

Also suggested is paving or other dust-mitigation measures on the county portion of Downs Street. Suggested key agencies for this project would be BLM and Kern County. Suggested funding sources include private/non-profit and state off-highway vehicle grant. The suggested projected leads would be the Eastern Kern County Resource Conservation District and the BLM Ridgecrest Field Office.

Business Route 395 Project

This one would include shoulder and bike lane improvements on South China Lake Boulevard/business route 395; desert landscape trees and shrubs on both sides below water tank to Albertsons; a class 1 bike path on north and OHV safe route on south side; and possibly OHV crossings accessing BLM's Brady Roadhead and Downs Streethead.

“Also known as South China Lake Blvd, Business Route 395 is the only business loop on Interstate Highway 395 and is Ridgecrest's 'Front Door.' The back entrance from Inyokern Road is the primary entrance for the Navy base at China Lake.

Improvements will include resurfacing and wider paved shoulders from the intersection at Highway 395 to the City Limits, along with bike paths and new OHV SafeRoute paths from the water tank to Albertsons. The paths will be lined with desert landscape features and trees, and don't forget the Petroglyph rock art!” according to the Four Projects listing.

Proposed key agencies for the project would be Kern County and Caltrans. Funding could potentially come from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway System eligible matching funds TRIP. The projected leads would be the Kern County Council of Governments, Kern County Planning, city of Ridgecrest Planning and Caltrans.

Mahan Street Project

This proposed project would include the “settlement of long-standing City and County issue” and would include completing or repairing various sections of Mahan Street, including improving bike lanes or bike paths that extend the entire length of Mahan. The project would include extending the existing Class I bikeway/bike path that currently ends at Downs Street and Bowman Road.

The four projects list describes the Mahan Street project as follows:

“This project will complete an important final leg of Ridgecrest's street system. Mahan Street is like Norma Street and Downs Street in the City's transportation scheme, and it's a mess. It is the City's western-most connector street to Inyokern Road from South China Lake Blvd. Many drivers coming into town are using Mahan to travel across town instead of Downs, Norma or China Lake Blvd. The incomplete construction and condition of this street is the result of a dispute between the City and Kern County. The project will ‘finish’ Mahan Street, make it walk-able and ride-able, and beautify it in the process.”

Proposed key agencies would be the city of Ridgecrest and Kern County. Proposed funding could come from the city of Ridgecrest and Kern County, STIP, FLAF and TAB and Measure L [Measure V], according to Four Projects Bullet Points. The proposed projected leads would be the Ridgecrest City Council and Kern County Planning.

The Ridgecrest SafeRoute Project

This project would create combined-use routes, also known as SafeRoutes, to allow OHVs to access BLM recreation areas. The SafeRoute endpoints would be the BLM cabanas that enter the Rademacher Hills south of Ridgecrest. The project would include directional signs and traffic control enhancements on both city and county combined routes.

The project also proposes public awareness campaigns and positive law enforcement to provide visibility and clarity. The Four Projects Bullet Point list argues that this project would resolve or significantly reduce “issues related to illegal OHV use in the community” and provide “[e]nhanced recreational opportunities and quality-of-life with public health and safety benefits.”

“The SafeRoute Trails Project will integrate our existing county and city streets and roadways with completed class 1 and class 2 bike-paths extending from the water tank by the White Star Mine to the back gate on one end of town and Inyokern Road on the other. SafeRoutes will be implemented under new State law recently promoted and piloted by Inyo County and The City of Bishop. The Ridgecrest SafeRoute system will add new combined pathways that will permit OHVs to access BLM recreation areas legally, and it will finally address dust and noise issues with OHVs in the Indian Wells Valley,” according to the Four Projects description document.

Proposed key agencies would be Kern County and the city of Ridgecrest. Proposed funding sources include private and public donations, grants, or funds otherwise included in the Four Projects. Proposed projected leads would be Kern County Planning, LAFCO and Kern County CO.

The Four Projects came up briefly at a prior city council meeting during discussion of the city's acceptance of an OHV grant. Dave Matthews spoke up at that time, suggesting that the next grant opportunity be used to include some of the items on the Four Projects list.

The regular council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 18 at 6 p.m., at City Council Chambers at City Hall, 100 W. California Ave in Ridgecrest. It will also be broadcast on Mediacom Channel 6 and streamed online at www.ridgecrest-ca.gov/city-media/rc6-live.