CONCORD -- With the goal of making central Concord streets more pedestrian friendly, the city plans to put in new crosswalks, widen sidewalks and make other improvements.

The City Council recently awarded a contract worth up to $380,000 for engineering and design work for the $3.5 million Central Concord Pedestrian Improvements and Streetscape project.

In 2012, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority approved a $2.4 million grant for the project from Measure J funds, the countywide half-cent sales tax that pays for transportation projects. The remainder of the funding comes from local gas tax revenue.

"The Transportation for Livable Communities Grant program is one of those programs that's intended to fund pedestrian improvement projects, walkability and promote alternative modes of transportation," said Robert Ovadia, Concord's city engineer.

The project targets three areas -- pedestrian safety along Clayton and Willow Pass roads and improvements on downtown streets.

The city plans to replace the existing stop sign with a traffic signal and put in two new crosswalks with safety lighting at the intersection of Clayton Road and Sutter Street, which stretches across seven traffic lanes.

During the five year period from 2006 to 2011, there were 15 collisions at this intersection, two involving pedestrians and one with a cyclist, according to Ovadia. Although no one was killed in those accidents, six people were injured, he said.

The other major component of the project calls for improvements along Willow Pass Road, including repaving the stretch of roadway from Market to Galindo streets; widening and rebuilding the sidewalk in front of the Park & Shop Center from Gateway Boulevard to Sutter Street; and installing new decorative crosswalks at five intersections.

The project also includes bike racks, tree lights along Grant Street between Park Street and Willow Pass, new bike lane striping on Salvio, Broadway and Grant streets; and wayfinder kiosks on Grant Street to direct BART passengers.

In the coming months, the city will reach out to the business community, BART and residents for input on the project. The design work is expected to take about a year and construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in spring 2015, according to Ovadia.

Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.