(From Press Release) The City of Davis released a rendering of plans submitted to CalTrans for the Richards corridor that must be completed prior to building the Nishi Gateway project, a live-work community on Davis’s June ballot designated as Yes on Measure A..
The rendering, attached, shows the following:
- The widening of the Richards Boulevard/I-80 Westbound off ramp to three lanes to prevent cars from dangerously stacking up on I-80. This will provide a smoother transition and added capacity for people traveling to downtown, campus and south Davis.
- The new off-ramp is moved closer to the bridge (a tight diamond similar to Mace Blvd) to improve operations at the Olive Drive intersection. Improvements include a new traffic signal to provide increased capacity and distance from the Olive Drive intersection. This will eliminate the dangerous weave conditions from the existing cloverleaf reads that conflict with cyclists.
- An extra lane to turn left onto West Olive Drive from Richards Boulevard, which allows people traveling to campus to bypass the Richards tunnel entirely. Currently traffic headed towards campus must be funneled down 1st street and compete with downtown shoppers. This configuration will make it so people headed downtown will not compete with University traffic on downtown streets.
- West Olive Drive widened at the intersection with Richards to accommodate traffic to and from campus using the new bypass route. This bypass route will also allow Emergency Vehicles/Unitrans to access South Davis instead of avoiding the intersection entirely.
- New protected bike lanes in addition to a walking path. Specifically, the proposal converts the existing five-foot sidewalk into a barrier-separated 12-foot two-way pathway. This will completely eliminate the conflict between bikes and pedestrians and cars exiting and entering the freeway.
“Improving Richards Boulevard has been a priority since I was first elected to the City Council in 1972,” said Maynard Skinner, a former Mayor of Davis. “We were never able to secure the money necessary to improve it, and without the millions of dollars provided by Nishi, I worry that the city will remain unable to make these critically needed changes on its own. Voting Yes on Measure A will secure a funding source for these critical improvements to the entrance to our City and core commercial district.”
Yes on Measure A includes a binding agreement that would ensure that the Nishi Gateway invests more than $23 million in Davis infrastructure improvements, all without new taxes. This includes a new access road from Nishi to campus and Old Davis Road so people living and working on Nishi can access I-80 from the underutilized Old Davis Road I-80 interchange. Both these major circulation improvements must be completed before any building can occur on the Nishi project.
From 2009 and 2013, there were 15 collisions at the Richards Boulevard/Olive Drive intersection, six of which involved cyclists. The City submitted to CalTrans an alternative bike path that would be safer to use than the current configuration. The path would pick up where the south side of the Richards tunnel ends and move the bicyclists further away from the road. A new tunnel will go under the freeway entrance so bicyclists and cars do cross on the same grade. This path will allow bicyclists to travel directly to South Davis.
Additionally, the current westbound onramp to Interstate 80 from this chaotic area leaves drivers little time to accelerate before merging directly onto the interstate. The new plan will create a dedicated lane to merge onto the freeway as well as an HOV (carpool) lane, creating safer travel along this corridor.