Council Unanimously Passes Fifth Street Redesign

Concerns Arise As To How Committed Staff Is To the Success of the Project –

5thStreetDwithBusLogosmall

The Davis City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved moving forward with the pilot project on Fifth Street.  The passage comes amidst a few negative public comments from some neighbors and some business owners.  It also comes with the acknowledgment that there are a number of technical details that must be addressed up front to make sure that the redesign works and if those are not address there will be problems.

There is a growing concern about how committed staff is to the success of this project, that I will discuss at length below.

The city, as we reported previously has been awarded a grant from SACOG to undertake this project.  That grant will cover only a portion of the initial expense.  Moreover it begins in the 2013-14 fiscal year.  The city seems hopeful of starting sooner and will  attempt to find some funding to be able to do just that.

In the meantime, the city wants to move ahead with the environmental review process.  Katherine Hess said on Tuesday, that the project will go through two reviews.  First, is the NEPA review, National Environmental Policy Act, under which Ms. Hess expects to be able to declare the project exempt.  The second is CEQA, which she says the project would likely not be exempt, however, she expected that the initial study will show there is no impact and therefore the city will be able to issue a negative declaration.

Members of the public, staff, and the council all have various concerns about the impact and the need to mitigate for these redesign changes.  There will be an evaluation of collisions and also traffic counts on Fifth Street, Eighth Street, and some of the side streets before and after the project is undertaken.  The first year of this project will be a test period where staff  (and others) will evaluate how well the redesign works.

One of the biggest concerns has to do with the buses.  As has been reported the buses are approximately a foot and a half wider than the bicycle lane, which means when they stop, they will protrude into the traffic lane.  From the information provided, numerous buses travel through the corridor each hour.

Director of Unitrans, Geoff Straw addressed some of the technical concerns that the new design would block lanes.  “This is something that we do throughout the city, anywhere there’s a bike lane and only one lane of travel,” he said.  “When we pull over, we block a little bit of the lane, but there’s still enough room we believe for cars to get around.” 

“We’re currently blocking traffic, one lane of traffic today on fifth street,” he continued, “a lot of times cars are coming behind us and having to get around us, so we’re blocking both lanes in a lot of ways by impeding traffic as those cars are having to go around.”

Overall, council is cautiously supportive and hopeful about the project.

Councilmember Lamar Heystek has long been a strong advocate for the redesign.  However, he was concerned that surveying businesses, fearful that this will hurt their bottomline, might not be the best way to evaluate the impact of the project once it has been completed and is in its test phase.

Councilmember Heystek said during his comments, “I do want to caution the council and staff that in this very sensitive economic time, it’s very easy to point at situations that are local to our community as reasons for continued economic depression.”

He continued,  “I hope that if we ask businesses to say would your customers be more likely to shop here if it were some other configuration, I just would not want us to be in a position to say, my business isn’t doing as well because of this.”

He said that it is very difficult to draw a direct correlation between street design and level of economic activity.

But this is ultimately a safety issue, not an economic one for him.  “The overwhelming factors for me,” he said, “are neighborhood safety, pedestrian safety, vehicle safety and that includes bicycles.  Bicycles, people, and cars.  I think this is another step in the right direction for safety and transportation flow in our community.”

Councilmember Stephen Souza was supportive but still had concerns.  “I still have some skepticism and the skepticism arises from block lengths, driveways, no turnouts for buses like we have in front of city hall.”  He continued, “There’s going to be an encounter with a bus now and then we’ll find out through the evaluation that we’ll have to deal with.”

Councilmember Sue Greenwald while agreeing with her colleague Mr. Souza about these concerns, expressed hope that this redesign would help the downtown.  “This is an experiment, I think that if it does work, it’s going to expand our downtown.  If you walk down Fifth Street right now, you see lots of vacancies, lots of underused commercial space.”

She continued,  “If this works as well as we hope, I think that Fifth Street could become an integral, nice, shopper friendly part of the downtown.  I think that we might get a lot more retail along Fifth Street.  It would actually improve the downtown and expand it.”

Councilmember Greenwald was excited about the possibility of enhancing our reputation as a bike-friendly city.  “In terms of our growing reputation as a bicycle center, we have a lot at stake.  We really are positioned wonderfully with the bicycle museum and Hall of Fame, with the Amgen, with our reputation as being the first platinum city, to maintain that leadership, it’s very exciting.”

She did acknowledge that there is a bit of risk.  “If it doesn’t work, we have to be willing to admit it, but I think that we have to be sure to take all the steps that would make it work.”

Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor pointed out that while there may be problems associated with or as an unintended consequence of a redesign, we should not pretend the current situation is safe or workable.  “Any comment about this should be prefaced by the current circumstance has problems,” he said.  “The current circumstance is not nirvana.”

“I think most people who experience Fifth Street in its current circumstance would agree that there are safety concerns on that street.  We have had numerous accidents that involve vehicles and bicycles, vehicles and vehicles, and even vehicles and pedestrians,” said Councilmember Don Saylor.  “So those accidents are real.  The rate of speed is often frightening, when approaching Fifth Street.” 

“There are current problems,” he said.  “Anything we do designed to change this is going to have competing visions in our imagination.” 

The Mayor Pro Tem said that it is time to proceed, “We’re at a point where we’re ready to proceed.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t pay close attention to each of the concerns that come forward.”  He mentioned Jim Kidd’s question as to whether the entire community wanted this and he responded, “I think the answer is no, not everybody wants this and not everybody really is convinced that this is a great approach.”

He concluded, “I think the evaluation period helps us, it will give us a time to assess what happens as we proceed.  I want to make a change in Fifth Street, because I don’t think that it’s currently a safe street for our people, for people traveling in our community.”

While council is to varying degrees supportive of the redesign, it is important to note that the staff is the key to the successful implementation of the project.  There have been expressed concerns publicly and privately but numerous parties that staff is simply not committed to this program.

The Vanguard spoke with Katherine Hess, who is heading up the project for the city.  One concern we have already is that the staff back in November had received feedback from the community.  However, it did not present any of that feedback in the staff report.  There was plenty of correspondence from Jim Kidd and other critics of the project included in the staff report, but none from supporters of the project.

Ms. Hess told the Vanguard that they had the comments from that outreach session and would integrate them when the design phase was underway.  At that time she said they would go through the project block-by-block to take into account feedback and mitigate potential problems.

However, we had a design that was presented somewhat, at least a framework for a design, on Tuesday night.  It would seem odd that they have not gone through the comments to incorporate them into the design features to be presented to date.  Some of that feedback would have addressed concerns that council and the public expressed on Tuesday.  By leaving that feedback out the staff may have unnecessarily exposed the project to criticism that could have been addressed or headed off before it even materialized.  This omission allows the opponents of the project to mobilize their supporters around the perceived problems with the project.

In short, the failure to incorporate foreseeable problems that the staff has now known about since November is inexcusable.  It unnecessarily exposes the project to risk.

Furthermore, the Vanguard asked Ms. Hess why there was only criticism included in the staff packet.  Her response was that a week before the city communicated to the stakeholders of the project that this hearing would be coming up.  After that time, they received correspondence and inserted it into the staff report.

The problem with that explanation is that not only did the city receive some correspondence that was not included, they included in the packet a meeting that they had with Jim Kidd not in the pastweek, but rather on February 23.  Moreover they included an email from Jim Kidd dated March 15.  Neither of these were in the last week.

However, they did not include any of the communications they have had with people such as Steve Tracy who has professional expertise in such projects and has played a huge role in pushing this project forward.

The answer given by Ms. Hess is completely disingenuous and runs counter to the facts included in the packet.  This is not a moot point either because staff is creating the impression that there is a large group of dissenters without a large group of supporters for this project.  And they have left the project vulnerable, needlessly so, to criticism.

The staff needs to be committed to this project, because errors in design are likely to lead to congestion problems that will end up turning public opinion against the project and leading the council and staff to beat a hasty retreat.  I am very concerned that staff is not on board with making this project work.

We will continue to monitor this situation and report on updates as the process moves forward.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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36 Comments

  1. Avatar

    “”Councilmember Sue Greenwald says, “This is an experiment, I think that if it does work, it’s going to expand our downtown. “”

    A 1.7 million dollar experiment , can’t we get more concrete data before spending 1.7 million dollars ? That money alone would fix the city’s budget !

  2. David M. Greenwald

    How much more data do you want? It’s worked in virtually every other city it has been attempted. To me the experiment part is really about getting the specific impacts mitigated for rather than the other all project.

    They ran simulations, looked at other communities, what other data can they possibly get without actually putting it into place here?

  3. Frankly

    As a business resident on D Street between 4th and 5th street I was initially skeptical that the road diet plan made sense. I changed my mind at some point and decided to support it. However, with staff and council members’ luke warm commitment, I am heading back over to the camp of no support. The political positioning is bothersome… it smacks of CYA and maneuvering for future political risk avoidance. If this is such a good idea, shouldn’t we have staff and council being project cheerleaders?

    My suspicion now is that this is a give away to bikers at the expense of commuters. I think the City is going to catch a lot of heat from drivers being more delayed and more annoyed, and staff and council are setting themselves up for immunity by taking the “experiment” excuse. Like most Davisites, I both drive and bike, and so I support improved biking safety measures; however, like it or not, 5th street is a major car traffic artery and if drivers like me are significantly delayed, we will raise some hell and demand accountability for the failed experiment.

  4. roger bockrath

    There may have been considerable earlier discussion about the road diet that I have not been privy too, but as I have gotten more informed and interested I have noticed no mention of the role played by the city’s traffic engineer. Perhaps the traffic engineer’s role was explained earlier and I did not catch it. But rather than spending 1.7 million dollars on an experiment, shouldn’t the traffic engineer run studies to figure out the best way to mitigate for any perceived negative effects.

    As Davis has prepared over the years for massive growth many new traffic lights have sprouted like mushrooms all over town. I recently put a stop watch in my truck and determined that 48% of my driving time in Davis is spent sitting at stop lights waiting for traffic that frequently isn’t there. My suggestion to the Climate Change Committee that we synchronize the lights on Covell, Anderson, Fifth and Poleline, as a low cost method of reducing our carbon footprint, was never acknowledged, and to my knowledge completely ignored. So I’m wondering just who is the traffic engineer and what is their roll in seeing to it that we have safe, efficient traffic flow. Are traffic considerations in Davis made on the basis of engineering or are they strictly political in nature?

  5. E Roberts Musser

    Avatar: “A 1.7 million dollar experiment , can’t we get more concrete data before spending 1.7 million dollars ? That money alone would fix the city’s budget!”

    A lot of the money is coming from a grant from SACOG, so could not be spent to fix the city’s budget anyway. Furthermore, an entire model has been developed to project traffic flows done by or in conjunction with UCD as evidence this will work. This road diet plan has been tried very successfully in other cities.

    JB: “As a business resident on D Street between 4th and 5th street I was initially skeptical that the road diet plan made sense. I changed my mind at some point and decided to support it. However, with staff and council members’ luke warm commitment, I am heading back over to the camp of no support.”

    But that is the name of the game played by city staff over and over again, when some special interest has city staff’s ear (probably the DDBA, who has vehemently opposed the road diet). City Council approved this project bc so many private citizens came down to Council chambers in support. Thus it would have been political suicide for the CC to say no – but behind the scenes games are being played to kill the project by a thousand pinpricks. Citizens must stay strong to make sure this project becomes a success, and is not sabotaged from within.

    Like you, I was skeptical at first. But after listening and reading all the evidence, I became convinced the city needs to give this plan a try. It is clear that having no bicycle lanes on 5th St. is a hazard, especially for students, many of whom do not have a car. Is it really all that important to arrive at your destination a few minutes later than you normally would (which may not even be the case by the way), if it would make it safer for everyone?

    When I first arrived in Davis from the east coast, in 1987, one of the very first things that impressed me most about this town was how bicycle friendly it was. Over the years, I have seen that improved to the betterment of the city. Let’s make this major fix, that has been needed for a very long time.

  6. E Roberts Musser

    rb: “There may have been considerable earlier discussion about the road diet that I have not been privy too, but as I have gotten more informed and interested I have noticed no mention of the role played by the city’s traffic engineer.”

    The city’s Senior Civil Engineer Roxanne Namazi was part of the city staff’s panel that gave the presentation about the proposed changes to 5th St. at the CC meeting…

  7. preston

    Has anyone looked into the reasons Fifth St. was expanded to 4 lanes to begin with? Were those reasons valid? How much has our population grown since? It is mentioned that this “road diet” has work in other towns. What are those towns? Were those streets one of only two four lane arterials traversing the whole city? Was there a fire station right square in the middle of the reduction? As you can tell I think that this idea is not a good one. There are many other options to make Fifth St. safer for bicyclists. I for one like the one I’ve used for over 20 years. I don’t ride mike bike on Fifth St! It is an easy decision to ride one block north or south for ones own safety. Self preservation is supposed to be an instinct. Now, when the council is crying poor, freezing positions, and furlowing employees, they decide that it is okay spend over $800,000 on increasing traffic congestion. What happened to “carbon neutral”? 15,000 cars drive through this section per day. Now imagine if just 1,000 of them went to Sixth and 1,000 to Fourth. This is a sad, sad decision.

  8. So fed up

    This is just another example of Katherine Hess’ manipulation and editing of the information and the facts to get an end result that she is targeting. Hess has a long history of this type of behavior and has been criticized by a number of City of Davis Commissioners and neighborhood members for her dishonesty. Hess is not thought of as being either competent, nor trust worthy. As the Director of Community Development over the past few years Hess was a huge failure, and as a result was removed from that position recently.

    Hess has alienated many neighborhoods due to her dishonest negotiating and railroading through infill projects that did not respect General Plan infill guidelines. For example, Hess blatantly betrayed the Chiles Ranch neighborhood by reneging on their Memorandum of Understanding agreement. She does not have a planning background and has no business being involved in planning issues. She has no credibility in the community by the Davis citizenry, nor the Davis business community.

    The NewPath cell tower issue disaster is another example of Hess’ incompetency and one of the many reasons why Hess was removed from the position of Director of Community Development. Hess authorized the 37 huge cell towers, “in error” to be placed wherever NewPath wanted to place them in Davis, including the front yards of some residents. This debacle has now exposed the city to a major lawsuit with NewPath, which is costing us, the Davis taxpayers, for a mess that Hess has brought onto the city.

    It is inexcusable that Hess thinks that she can get away with “editing” and manipulating critical information on this road planning issue, or any issue. Katherine Hess has a long history of this nefarious behavior which, clearly, will never change

    The fundamental question is why are we paying Katherine Hess around $100,000 per year to undermine and to continuously work against the citizens of Davis? Why can’t we have someone who is competent, with integrity who will work with the citizens, not against them?

  9. Frankly

    “There are many other options to make Fifth St. safer for bicyclists. I for one like the one I’ve used for over 20 years. I don’t ride mike bike on Fifth St!”

    Preston: I agree. I generally do not see Fifth Street as a viable bikeway and use alternatives that are safer and are at least as fast. Interesting for me though… although the Food Coop is only 3 blocks away, I won’t walk that way for lunch because crossing Fifth is such a pain.

    The way I look at it, if it works and there are not too many issues or delays, then the supports and advocates can and should pat themselves on the back. If it creates any significant problems, then those same people should be held accountable and I think “road diet” will become synonymous with “bad idea”.

    “ When I first arrived in Davis from the east coast, in 1987, one of the very first things that impressed me most about this town was how bicycle friendly it was. Over the years, I have seen that improved to the betterment of the city. Let’s make this major fix, that has been needed for a very long time.”

    ERM: I think there are just more people and more cars and more bikes since 1987… certainly since 1974 when I moved here from across the plains. My concern is that we are trying to put the proverbial square peg in a round hole. When I see students riding down Fifth Street, I worry about their safety. When I ride my bike to work, I get somewhat irritated at having to cross Fifth Street in a sea of traffic. When I have to walk across Fifth Street, I also get a bit steamed at periodic delays of several minutes. When I drive down Fifth Street I frequently curse near accidents and having to wait behind people making left turns onto the side streets. I assume many people feel the same way. However, change for change sake is not something to support if it won’t make it better. Since the “experiment” term is now being used, I am worried that we are going to increase our irritations instead of reduce them.

  10. E Roberts Musser

    jb: “Since the “experiment” term is now being used, I am worried that we are going to increase our irritations instead of reduce them.”

    I honestly think the term “experiment” is being used as political cover by some CC members. Anytime you try something new you have to take a leap of faith.

    You have conceded 5th St. is a significant problem for the reasons you have cited. Experts have come forward with what they firmly believe is a good solution that has worked in other cities. If I remember rightly, the stats they gave indicated in all the cities a “road diet” was tried, it was only reversed in a single case, but improved things in every other case (someone correct me if I am wrong on this). I would say that is pretty good evidence this plan will work.

    Now that is not to say there will not be some need for tweaking along the way to address any glitches that arise. But good heavens, that is how progress is made in anything new you try.

    What I don’t want to see is the city staff/DDBA/other detractors engaging in a “self-fulfilliing prophecy”/acts of sabotage where they make sure this project fails by CREATING a little problem here, a negative perception there under the radar screen. Citizens must back this road diet plan 150% – create that much needed ground swell of support for a safer 5th St. – and it will almost certainly be a success despite the detractors/sabateurs.

    I’ve seen this political sabotage scenario play out too many times in this city, and citizens are growing sick of it. We want honest, open gov’t, where projects approved by the MAJORITY are given a FAIR CHANCE TO SUCCEED.

    preston: ” Now, when the council is crying poor, freezing positions, and furlowing employees, they decide that it is okay spend over $800,000 on increasing traffic congestion.”

    As I mentioned previously, the “$800,000” you are referring to is a grant from SACOG, not city money.

  11. Don Shor

    ERM: “I honestly think the term “experiment” is being used as political cover by some CC members.
    …., it was only reversed in a single case, but improved things in every other case (someone correct me if I am wrong on this). I would say that is pretty good evidence this plan will work.
    Now that is not to say there will not be some need for tweaking along the way to address any glitches that arise.”

    Steve’s comment to me was that the one case where it was reversed was due to political pressure from those who had opposed it in the first place (sorry, Steve, if I’ve misconstrued our conversation from a few months ago).

    The problem is that there is no objective definition of success or failure. What if the auto count on 5th Street is reduced by 15%? 30%? Is that a success, or a failure? That will depend entirely on your point of view. Downtown merchants would consider any reduction of traffic flow on 5th Street to be a failure if it is redirecting traffic away from the downtown. We are assured, even though this is counter-intuitive, that a reduction in traffic flow on 5th Street will not occur. Models and the experiences of other cities show that traffic flow is not reduced, even though you would expect it to be reduced when you constrict auto lanes.

    I assume that traffic engineers will monitor and report back about the change in traffic flow. But IMO this road diet is basically irreversible once installed. Clearly there will be no political will to undo this project, even if the effects are undesirable for downtown businesses and for those that front onto 5th Street. So we aren’t dealing with assessment after the fact for consideration of reversal, we are assessing for the purpose of dealing with mitigation of unintended consequences: increased traffic on 4th, 3rd, etc., and on 8th; increased traffic onto 2nd out of town.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    Don: the only point I would suggest is that right now, people are avoiding 5th street as it is. When I go from your block of 5th to where I live, I will often jet three blocks north to 8th, cut over to Sycamore and then get on Russell, going six blocks out of my way rather than go through that section of 5th. When I go downtown, I use B St to go to third. That’s not really going to change with a street redesign.

  13. E Roberts Musser

    DS: “The problem is that there is no objective definition of success or failure. What if the auto count on 5th Street is reduced by 15%? 30%? Is that a success, or a failure? That will depend entirely on your point of view. Downtown merchants would consider any reduction of traffic flow on 5th Street to be a failure if it is redirecting traffic away from the downtown.”

    I really don’t understand the logic here. If it takes a few minutes longer to go down 5th St. (at most 5 min. from the evidence presented), and it is not certain that will even be the case, do you really think that will deter the average consumer from going downtown to the store of their choice? Do the downtown businesses really think a 5 minute or less delay will change anyone’s shopping habits? That because of a 5 min. delay on 5th St, the consumer is going to drive out of town to go elsewhere to another store to buy what they want, which will take far, far longer?

  14. Don Shor

    If people have the perception that it is difficult to get downtown, they will go elsewhere. Just as there is currently a perception that it is difficult to park downtown, which leads people to go elsewhere. When they put in traffic barriers in one part of downtown Sacramento, it moved the problem to nearby neighborhoods. When the South Davis overpass opened, I completely changed my route out of town, permanently. When you change the configuration, you change the flow. If people get the perception that it is slower or worse than it is now, they will change their traffic patterns accordingly. Convenience is paramount to most auto-oriented shoppers, and is already a challenge for the downtown compared to, say, the neighborhood shopping centers or Target.

    If the traffic flow remains the same, there will be little effect on downtown access and business (the parking problem remains, of course, and should be the top priority for downtown merchants). We don’t know. Anecdotal descriptions don’t matter; it is important, since this is pretty much a done deal, that the changes be monitored, that adjustments be made, and that the council be aware that some followup costs may be involved. This action will have consequences, and to blithely assume that none of them will be adverse is unrealistic.

  15. preston

    [quote]As I mentioned previously, the “$800,000” you are referring to is a grant from SACOG, not city money.
    [/quote]
    The “experiment” is going to cost 1.7 mil. Have is grant money, half from city coffers.

  16. preston

    [quote]When I go from your block of 5th to where I live, I will often jet three blocks north to 8th, cut over to Sycamore and then get on Russell, going six blocks out of my way rather than go through that section of 5th. When I go downtown, I use B St to go to third. That’s not really going to change with a street redesign.[/quote]
    Why would you go those routes? They save you no time and cost more money in gas, not to mention the green house gases…..

  17. David M. Greenwald

    Actually I have timed it and also compared it, and during peak hours it’s identical in terms of time. But no stops, less traffic, therefore more enjoyable and less stressful.

  18. stracy

    OK. Maybe its time for me to try to clarify things a bit. I am reluctant to speak up, partly because I have had to answer these same points so many times over the past seven years. Also because even thoughtful people like Jeff Boone who reviewed the material, engaged me in a dialog, and became a supporter can change their minds again. But here we go.

    The delay won’t ever be close to five minutes. Two models have shown virtually identical results: that the average reduction in travel time (the opposite of delay) for an evening rush hour trip through the corridor will be about 45 seconds. That totals about 20 hours each evening considering all the vehicles making trips through the corridor. That’s 100 hours a week. This is enough hours each year to total more than half a person-year in time saved.

    The fictitious delay for drivers on side streets without signals averages about ten seconds per car. And such a small percentage of drivers (11%) are on those side streets that their collective delay is less than an hour. This is a 20 to 1 advantage in savings vs delay. We should support a design that works for the greater good.

    I say fictitious delay because the type of model used for these corridor simulations does not allow the computer to assign drivers to routes that would be faster for their trips. It is rigid. But we know in the real world people experiment with alternate routes and switch if they find a faster way home. Like through the intersections with signals.

    Out of hundreds of road diets that have been done in the country the only one I am aware of that was reversed back to the former design was in Missoula Montana. That road diet was NOT a failure. It was successful at its purpose of bringing down speeds and reducing accidents on a street where there had been multiple fatalities over the years. But it had been billed as an experiment, not a commitment. So the business community, which had been opposed from the beginning, never quit complaining and working the political process and eventually got it reversed. One of the lead opponents was later killed when struck by a car while he was crossing the street in front of his bookstore.

    Now to the experiment issue: An excellent study of a road diet was done by Traffic Engineer Dan Gallagher in Orlando, Florida. They developed a set of objective and subjective criteria that would be reviewed to determine the success or failure of the redesign. Afterward, the redesign got positive marks on every objective criteria, such as reduced speeding, reduced accidents, no impact on traffic flow, etc. It also got positive marks on every subjective criteria from people surveyed, EXCEPT one: Shop owners reported their customers had a negative impression of the new pedestrian environment on the street. But those same pedestrians self-reported a positive experience.

    The message from Missoula and Orlando is that opponents may never view the redesign as a success no matter how positive the results are, and that billing the redesign as an experiment sets the stage for a reversal based on unfounded fears rather than the public good.

    It also tells us to continue to watch out on this dangerous street, especially if you are not in a car. Nearly one-fourth of all the accidents in this whole city involving pedestrians and bicyclists happen on just 3,000 feet of a single roadway: 5th Street. Just a few days after the Council’s September decision to support the redesign and apply for the grant we now have in hand, a tragedy was narrowly avoided. On a Sunday morning, a nine-year old girl in elementary school in Davis was hit at 5th and G, while crossing in the crosswalk with the light. She was flown to the UC San Francisco Medical Center, but fortunately recovered and was soon back in school. Over one hundred and fifty people have been injured in accidents in this corridor while we have been arguing about this, and a third of them have not been in cars.

    Please everyone, accept that this is a done deal. Don’t look for minor excuses to argue that this process or the redesign should be reversed. Let’s work together on the details to convert this street from a pathetic, chaotic, and dangerous embarrassment to an asset that frames our downtown in a way we can be proud of.

    Steve Tracy

  19. Don Shor

    “The message from Missoula and Orlando is that opponents may never view the redesign as a success…”
    The message I get from Orlando is that the council should establish “a set of subjective and objective criteria” with which to review the project. Again, my point is not for them to review the project for the purpose of reversing it, but instead to mitigate any unintended side-effects.

    “…we know in the real world people experiment with alternate routes and switch if they find a faster way home. Like through the intersections with signals.”
    Thus, there may be an increase in traffic on side streets, possibly leading to delays on those streets. 8th Street may have increased traffic, causing more accidents there. We don’t know. So it will be important to follow up.

    Yes, it is a done deal. Do it right, and please don’t assume that any suggestions from business and property owners arise from nefarious motives.

  20. stracy

    Don. I guess I didn’t make it clear. The study in Orlando was done purely because Dan G was interested in contributing to the road diet information bank. The City never had any intention of reversing the street. In fact, he went on to do others.

    The increase in traffic on side streets has already happened. Four years ago the 30 seconds of additional delay from the change in signal timing at F and G Streets caused a lot of drivers to divert. Traffic on B and 8th jumped 10 to 15% immediately after the lights were changed. And we see drivers racing through Old East and Old North Davis to avoid delays at the signals. We are now having a lot of accidents in the interior of our neighborhoods.

    It is possible that once that delay is removed, some drivers may come back to 5th Street because it is the more direct route. So spillover traffic pre-sorted for impatient drivers on 8th Street and through the neighborhoods may decrease.

    Time will tell.

  21. Frankly

    people like [me] who reviewed the material, engaged me in a dialog, and became a supporter can change their minds again

    Steve, I was surprised that Sue would call this an experiment after people like you have gone to such trouble to dispel all the concerns. I have enough experience managing projects to implement significant change to smell the CYA rat when it appears. Elaine makes the point that this is how the political chips are stacked; but I don’t like semi-committed politicians spending money on experiments. That comment hit a nerve… maybe because of the expensive national policy experiments being passed lately; but it still would not sit well with me regardless. Answer me this: who in the city will be accountable if this turns out to be a mess?

  22. preston

    [quote]Why would you go those routes? They save you no time and cost more money in gas, not to mention the green house gases…..
    David M. Greenwald

    04/30/10 – 04:14 PM…
    Actually I have timed it and also compared it, and during peak hours it’s identical in terms of time. But no stops, less traffic, therefore more enjoyable and less stressful.
    [/quote]

    Like I said, you save no time…..

  23. E Roberts Musser

    JB: “Answer me this: who in the city will be accountable if this turns out to be a mess?”

    I’m curious – who do you think will be held accountable?

    DS: “Yes, it is a done deal. Do it right, and please don’t assume that any suggestions from business and property owners arise from nefarious motives.”

    I have already agreed with you that there almost certainly will be some tweaking that will be needed. So business owners or whoever should not feel under attack if they speak up to address a specific problem. I don’t think anyone thinks this will be perfect at the start – but I am convinced it will be a huge improvement. But citizens must make it clear we are 150% behind making this work. And I honestly believe the DDBA can be part of the solution by making suggestions for improvement (constructive criticism).

    However, no political shennanigans should be tolerated to undermine this project. We as a community must remain steadfast in our support to make this work. Geoff Straw of Unitrans is a good example. He is always willing to listen, offer suggestions, and try whatever is necessary to make things better. This is what I expect of city staff…

    Thanks stracey for reiterating your position to remind all of us why we ultimately supported this project.

  24. preston

    Steve, I just don’t see how reducing the travel lanes by half is going to eliminate people from diverting to side streets, especially if this area becomes the bicycle and pedestrian haven that has been envisioned. The increase in non vehicular traffic will only add to the delays. Ever driven on Fifth during Farmer’s Market?

  25. E Roberts Musser

    preston: “The “experiment” is going to cost 1.7 mil. Have is grant money, half from city coffers.”

    The other half from city coffers is mostly from Redevelopment Agency Funds is my understanding, which is federal monies. While it is true RDA Funds will then be unavailable to be spent on other projects in the city, what specific project do you feel this money should be spent on (that is so much more important) rather than on the 5th St redesign?

  26. E Roberts Musser

    preston: “Ever driven on Fifth during Farmer’s Market?”

    OK, are you saying that we should go back to having two lanes on Farmer’s Market days, so that car traffic will not be impeded in any way? Or are you satisfied that any minimal delays are worth the inconvenience in order to make the street safer for pedestrians who are crossing to get to the Farmer’s Market?

    I made this exact point when I argued in favor of the 5th St. redesign. If one lane of traffic going one way is good for the Farmer’s Market to make it safer one day a week, then why isn’t it good for a permanent fix to the safety problems on 5th St. the other six days a week?

  27. David M. Greenwald

    Preston: you miss the point, I save no time DRIVING SIX ADDITIONAL BLOCKS.

    Also, during farmer’s market, they are not narrowing traffic at the right points. Do it at B St, and you use the natural traffic flow to ease the transition. Same with L St.

  28. preston

    Mr. Musser,
    I fully believe that it is utterly ridiculous that the city spends money to have employees drive to work on Saturday just to reduce Fifth St. to two lanes for pedestrian safety when there is a signalized crosswalk one block away.
    Plus I would love to spend that federal money on many issues. First and foremost would be widening Richards under crossing. But since that is impossible let’s just increase our road rehab contract.

    David,
    You hit my point on the head. You save no time and drive six additional blocks. Thank you!

  29. Don Shor

    “First and foremost would be widening Richards under crossing.”
    I don’t know how long you’ve been in Davis. The voters have rejected that proposal rather decisively more than once.

  30. David M. Greenwald

    “You hit my point on the head. You save no time and drive six additional blocks. Thank you! “

    Which suggests that current rate of travel is suboptimal, which is my point. I’d rather avoid the traffic and hazards as it is. I know a number of people who simply don’t like traveling on fifth on the current configuration.

    “Just because the voters have rejected widening Richards doesn’t make it a good decision, just a popular one.”

    That’s true. When I first got here I thought it was stupid not to widen fifth. Then someone explained to me that if we had a two lane Richards dumping onto the slower, one lane downtown streets, there would be a huge traffic mess right in downtown Davis. Instead they push the congestion out of the core and by the time people getting to the downtown the traffic flow is not a problem.

  31. preston

    If you seriously believe that reducing travel lanes will ease traffic and decrease travel time, then have at it.

    The “dumping” of Richards into downtown already exists. By having two lanes in we would eliminate the current back up that can reach the other side of 80. By having two lanes out we would decrease emergency response time significantly, that is until the Fifth road diet clogs the street in front of Station 31. Yeah!

  32. E Roberts Musser

    preston: “I fully believe that it is utterly ridiculous that the city spends money to have employees drive to work on Saturday just to reduce Fifth St. to two lanes for pedestrian safety when there is a signalized crosswalk one block away.”

    I’ll take that to mean pedestrian safety is not high on your priority list – which is certainly your peroragative. But I suspect it represents a minority view in the extreme…because the narrowing of lanes once a week seems to be pretty popular and universally accepted in this town as a good solution to the problem of pedestrian safety on Farmer’s Market Day.

  33. Pingback: My View: Fifth Street Finally Fixed | .:Davis Vanguard:.

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