RICHMOND -- Richmond and San Pablo are set to work together to make San Pablo Avenue more amenable to pedestrians and bicyclists.

The cities last week filed a joint application for a grant to build new sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, bike lanes and lighting on a one-mile stretch of road between Rivers Street and Hilltop Drive.

"There is a severe lack of pedestrian and bicycle facilities along this road," said Hector Rojas, a senior planner in the Richmond Planning Department. "This project has an immense amount of community support."

The grant, through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's One Bay Area Grant Program, could provide $6 million to construct the San Pablo Avenue Complete Streets Project. If the application is selected for funding, San Pablo and Richmond will need to provide at least 11.74 percent in matching funds, according to a city staff report, making Richmond's share roughly $300,000. San Pablo officials wouldn't speculate on that city's financial obligation.

The Richmond City Council on Tuesday deadlocked over how to move forward, meaning staff will continue to pursue the funding and bring back a more detailed plan in the coming months. The vote came past midnight Wednesday, after more than six hours of contentious debate on other matters.

Council members Jovanka Beckles and Tom Butt, likely supporters of the plan, had already left the chamber and did not vote.

San Pablo City Manager Matt Rodriguez said Tuesday the partnership could "improve bike, pedestrian access and traffic safety along our joint northern border where no bike paths or sidewalks exist, and speeding occurs daily."

Seven pedestrian and bicycle collisions occurred along San Pablo Avenue between Rivers Street and Hilltop Drive between 2000 and 2010, including one pedestrian fatality, according to a Richmond staff report.

The stretch of road will retain two lanes of vehicle traffic on both sides, planners said.

Councilman Nat Bates abstained and Corky Boozé voted against the proposal.

"I don't see the volume of bicycle traffic to justify this," Bates said. "It's just a waste of money."

Boozé said he was concerned that bike lanes could impair traffic flow, especially for tractor-trailers.

"Boozé and Bates had specific concerns that we can easily address without substantially altering the project design," Rojas said Wednesday. "We will address those concerns as we move forward and provide clarification regarding truck movement at a time when we return with a request to approve expenditures for the project."

Rojas noted that the city's General Plan, passed last year, contains provisions calling for increasing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the city, and said that more lanes for pedestrians and bicycles are expected to encourage increased use of bicycles for transportation.

"We'll come back to council once funding has been secured to obtain approval for the expenditure," Rojas said.

Construction could begin within the next two years, staff said.

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or rrogers@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow Twitter.com/roberthrogers.