Nearly $900,000 in state grants will fund research and studies on easing traffic congestion and developing neighborhood-friendly travel corridors in Riverside County.

The California Department of Transportation said the latest round of Sustainable Communities Grants totaled $31 million earmarked for cities, counties, joint powers authorities and other entities throughout the state.

“These grants will provide much needed funding to support the efforts by local and regional agencies to improve transportation in their communities,” Caltrans Director Laurie Berman said. “Planning is a crucial first step in creating projects that can ultimately lead to more long-lasting transportation improvements throughout the state.”

The projects covered under the allotments are supposed to largely focus on contributing to the current state mandates of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — and 80 percent below the 1990 benchmark by 2050, according to Caltrans.

The largest grant in Riverside County — $344,900 — went to the Western Riverside Council of Governments, or WRCOG, for its “Subregional Climate Action Plan,” which emphasizes land-use projects that put downward pressure on GHG output.

The city of Menifee was awarded a $258,075 grant to fund planning for expansion of bike and pedestrian paths that will function as “key linkages” throughout the municipality, according to Caltrans.

Moreno Valley got a $154,927 grant for its Dracaea Avenue Neighborhood Greenway Corridor Study, which will examine the practicalities of establishing multi-use trails, bike paths and safe routes to school for children using the roughly five-mile corridor.

The Riverside County Department of Transportation received $133,000 for research on development of a “Multi-Modal Transit” project centered on a seven-mile stretch of state Route 74 between Lake Elsinore and Perris that the county took over from the state last year. The project entails infrastructure improvements, the establishment of pedestrian and bicycle paths, as well as other accessibility upgrades, according to Caltrans.

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