|Funding Agency||South Coast Air Quality Management District|
|Funding Program||AB 1318 Sentinel Power Plant Offset for air quality improvements in the Coachella Valley|
|Construction Cost||$3 million|
|Construction Start||July 2014|
|Construction Completion||October 2015|
|Contractor||Golden Valley Construction|
|Mobile Home Parks Paved||35|
|Miles of Paving||9 miles|
The agricultural industry is an integral part of Riverside County’s economy. In 2009, the County ranked 13th out of the state’s 58 counties in terms of total value of agricultural production. The County’s agricultural base is located in southeastern Coachella Valley in the communities of Mecca, Thermal and Oasis.
The area is home to nearly 5,000 low-income farm working families who primarily live in small mobile home parks called Polancos. Many of the private roads within the mobile home parks are unpaved and made up of fine silt and gravel. The dry, windy and hot climate consistently creates dust for residents, especially cars passing children walking to school. In addition, prevailing wind patterns carry the effects of this dust to other heavily populated areas of the Coachella Valley, affecting many more residents beyond the several thousand living in the parks. Studies have found that young people are particularly susceptible to the ill effects of dust emissions on their growth and development.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), an agency that promotes better public health through improved air quality, saw an opportunity to fund air quality improvements in Coachella Valley as a result of the new Sentinel Energy Power Plant built in nearby Desert Hot Springs.
Barry Wallerstein, Former Executive Officer of SCAQMD, commented on the project:
“In the case of the Sentinel plant, the California legislature established a mitigation fee that the developer would pay to offset its pollution. Those fees, all 53 million dollars of them are being put to wonderful projects in the Coachella Valley.”
“The needs of the community, especially in terms of reducing air pollution, far exceeded the resources they were receiving, so we were very pleased to partner with the County of Riverside and it’s Transportation Department to be able to move forward with a project that would provide health improvement and some transportation improvement in a community that sorely needed it.”
John Benoit, SCAQMD board member as well as Riverside County’s 4th District Supervisor representing eastern Riverside County, recalled a public meeting on the need for air quality improvements:
“One particular telling testimony came from a young man who lived in one of these mobile home parks. [T]hey’re very basic housing, almost universally on dirt streets. This young man got up at this public meeting and testified how if we were going to spend money to improve air quality in the area that he thought it would be a good idea to pave these roads. We took that testimony and went back to analyze how we could make it happen.”
“To pave these roadways, with a direct consequence of improving the air quality … was very, very fulfilling.”
Due to its extensive experience in the construction of paving and infrastructure projects for the County, the County’s Transportation Department took the lead in administering the construction of the air quality project. Construction was completed in October 2015 with a total of 35 mobile home parks receiving 9 miles of paved roads.
Before and After
|Cathy Wampler, Project Manager|