On Sunday, Eileen Samitz wrote that “your articles continue to ignore and side-step the serious problems and impacts by a mega-dorm project like Lincoln40 and try to simplify it to a numbers or ratio issue.” In her comment, which we re-printed as an article on Monday, she raises a number of points that we will be addressing over the course of the coming days and weeks.
Today we address the potential pedestrian/bike overpass.
Ms. Samitz writes, “Due to the Lincoln40 project the subject (of) a pedestrian/bike railroad underpass (or more expensive overpass) is being floated as an idea, but who is going to pay for the $7 million price tag for that? Lincoln40 would be creating the tipping point to need such infrastructure which would cost $7 million. The Lincoln40 developer has made clear that he is not going to pay the bill for that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, even though it is his Lincoln40 project exacerbating the traffic and circulation situation to need it.”
For starters, Paul Gradeff, the project manager for Lincoln40, has previously told the Vanguard – and this week told the Vanguard directly – that the project is “clearly being becoming the catalyst to provide a longer-term solution to the Richards interchange.”
He said, “We have always agreed to pay our fair share and have already helped by creating a viable entry/access point that did not exist prior to our development plans.”
What the project is not going to do is provide all of the funding for such infrastructure.
A proposed Olive Drive connection to either the train depot or L Street would create a new grade-separated bicycle and pedestrian facility connecting Olive Drive, just west of Hickory Lane, across the UPRR (Union Pacific Railroad) tracks to the eastern side of the Amtrak platform/boarding area at the Davis Transit Depot.
In November the pedestrian/bike overcrossing to the train depot was rated by consultants as feasible with an estimated cost of $6.3 to $6.7 million.
In conversations with the city, it was noted that the Olive Drive-train depot connection was rising to the top of the list of priorities. The city is planning to apply for funding for that connection in the next cycle that starts in January 2018.
However, getting funding through that program, a very competitive statewide program, is less certain than the city believes the funding is for the Richards Boulevard-I80 interchange project. “It’s speculative whether or not we’ll receive funding (for the overcrossing),” the Vanguard was told.
It will be a policy decision from the city council to say that the whole cost of this overcrossing project should be borne by the Lincoln40 developer. The people we talked to agreed with Mr. Gradeff, arguing that they didn’t see the developer funding the entire project as it is really a fair share type of cost.
“We would expect them to provide some share of the project,” we were told. “But whether or not that facility would be in place before construction occurs would also be a policy decision of the city council.”
If that project is funded through the ATP (Active Transportation Program) grant program then the impacts of Lincoln40 would be more temporary since there would be a clear access point to downtown for pedestrians and bicyclists. There is anticipation that the overpass would become a shortcut to the UC Davis campus that would enable bicyclists to bypass the Olive-Richards intersection.
The city staffer also believes there could be a Pole Line Road bike/pedestrian connection project that would improve access to the US40 bike path from the areas north and south of I-80 and the UPRR tracks. The grant funding for that project is considered more likely and the cost is less, at $3.9 million.
However, the consultants, note, “The Davis Transit Center Bike/Pedestrian Overcrossing option would provide better access for the residents of the Olive Drive neighborhood and the proposed Lincoln40 project to downtown.”
The higher cost of the depot connection relative to the Pole Line Road bike/pedestrian connection would make the former “less desirable.” However, “If the Lincoln40 project contributes fair share funding the Depot project, this cost difference may not be important and it would be more advantageous to construct this crossing prior to or concurrent with the Lincoln40 project development because the Lincoln40 parcel provides an ideal construction staging area, thus potentially reducing the construction cost.”
The staff remarked in November that “the Olive Drive / Train Depot Connection would restore neighborhood access to downtown post-UPRR fence construction, while the Pole Line Road connection provides access to Montgomery Elementary School, reducing the bike/ped route to school from 2.6 to 1.2 miles. Grant applications were submitted to both statewide and regional Alternative Transportation Programs to fund the Olive Drive / Pole Line Road Connection facility. However, it was not recommended for funding in either program.”
Once again, the project manager indicates that Lincoln40 will contribute a fair share. City staff has told the Vanguard this is a priority. However, at this time funding for the project is uncertain.
—David M. Greenwald reporting