NextDoor is set up as a private social network for the community, organized by neighborhood. The city of Davis has been participating and using it as a means to send messages and important information directly to the community.
However, it is a largely untapped potential and, for a variety of reasons, political discussion has been both discouraged and ignored. For the most part it has been the place for city-based announcements, crime reports, finding lost pets, and suggestions for home repair and cleaning services.
This changed somewhat as a resident from Olive Drive, self-described as new to Davis, posted the following:
Hi everyone, I am new to Davis so please forgive my naiveté on this subject…
I’ve lived on Olive Drive for about two years now and I’ve noticed how awful the traffic snarl ups can be at these two intersections:
– Olive Drive and Richards Blvd: https://goo.gl/maps/ZNXt0
– 1st Street and Richards Blvd: https://goo.gl/maps/Qo3BD
I understand part of the problem is that the railroad bridge between these two intersections has been designated as a historical artifact, so it cannot be replaced to allow Richards Blvd to be widened here from two lanes. I heard this was done to protect the downtown district from pass-through traffic, which is something I can appreciate.
A large number of people take the Olive Drive ramp from I-80, and I believe they contribute significantly to the traffic at these intersections. In fact, many drivers speed down Olive Dr at freeway speeds as though Olive Dr were one long freeway ramp, but that’s another topic for another day. 🙂
Has anyone in the city ever studied the idea of connecting Olive Drive across the railroad tracks to L Street? It seems to me that this would alleviate a substantial amount of congestion without increasing pass-through traffic through downtown Davis. (In fact, I believe it would actually reduce some of the pass-through traffic through downtown.) It would also free the residents of Olive Drive (such as myself) from being trapped on “Olive Island” and having to use the intersection point at Richards Blvd as our only egress point from the neighborhood.
I can’t have been the first person to think of this, so I would bet it’s been studied in the past and was rejected due to cost or legal hurdles. I would also imagine it’s difficult to get cooperation with the Union Pacific Railroad on these kinds of projects.
Does anyone here know if this idea has been looked at before, and if so, what happened to it? Is it an idea worth investigating again?
What followed was 42 replies. The problem, as many know, has been around for a long time. About 15 years ago, the city attempted to expand the Richards underpass to four lanes, however that proposal was voted down. While that may seem like an obvious remedy to some, the remedy would simply drop a large volume of traffic onto two-lane downtown streets that are not set up to handle that type of flow.
As someone who frequently drives to the downtown through the underpass, a vast majority of traffic flow turns left onto 1st Street and toward the university. This often causes 1st Street to back up past E Street and therefore even higher volumes of traffic flowing through the underpass would have no place to flow.
As we reported a few months ago, the city is looking at alterations for the I-80 exchange which creates a patchwork effect onto Richards Blvd. before Olive Drive.
These are, of course, critical issues to resolve prior to Nishi going before the voters, and that’s why we have looked at alternatives to Nishi ‒ including going carless, segmenting the development, or providing an alternative route to campus from Richards via Olive Drive.
One possible remedy would be to work on ways to encourage drivers to enter campus from the south entrance or from Highway 113 on the north side, rather than I-80 to B Street to Russell.
The poster notes that a large number of people take the Olive Drive ramp from I-80. One suggestion I have made in the past was to put a parking structure near the Design House on the corner of Olive Drive and Richards, that would hopefully help to alleviate traffic as well as parking problems downtown. My proposal would be to have it be built over the train tracks and drop down on the 1st Street side of the tracks into the existing under-sized lot. It would be expensive, but it would help alleviate some problems.
However, as a number of posters pointed out, creating additional access points over the railroad tracks makes a solution problematic.
One poster said, “Sadly, as soon as “crossing the railroad” enters the conversation, we’re all but dead in the water. Seems easy enough. And it could be easy enough. But going either over or under the tracks is a HUGE deal – all because of having to deal with the railroad that owns that strip of land and really doesn’t like any other entity touching it in any way. Crossing it at-grade would likely never fly. You’ll recall how Davis did not want the fencing put up along the tracks on Olive? You see how that went.”
Another poster pointed out, “We can’t even get the Railroad to agree to a bike pedestrian crossing there. Maybe speed bumps and other traffic calming measures could be done to alleviate the speed of the traffic? Or close the freeway off ramp altogether to ensure local only traffic?”
It was an interesting discussion. It did get a bit heated toward the end, although mildly so. And a number of people pointed out that everyone there was posting under their actual names.
—David M. Greenwald reporting