Measure A Will Make Richards Safer

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Richards Tunnelby Chris Sprague

The Richards Boulevard/Olive Drive area is the most poorly planned intersection in Davis. There is no clear right of way when turning and you frequently compete with bikers and pedestrians. People leaving In-N-Out floor it across multiple lanes while dodging traffic incoming from the freeway.

My personal favorite is when people waiting in line for a Dutch Bros. coffee literally block the intersection because the line is so long. I understand it’s good coffee but it is hazardous to bikers, pedestrians and vehicles.

When I heard that Measure A will result in significant improvements to that intersection I was excited. The improvements associated with the Nishi project include a protected bike lane similar to the ones that have been popping up around the city.

The freeway off-ramp will be revamped and it will funnel into two lanes rather than one. New designated turning lanes will be added for vehicles. As you exit the downtown you will be funneled into four lanes, and right of ways will be much clearer due to the diamond intersection they will be implementing.

These are the kind of multimillion-dollar improvements that intersection has been in dire need of for decades. It is only possible with the developer fees from Nishi. I am willing to accept more cars at that intersection as long as these improvements are made before people occupy the project, which was successfully negotiated in the final hour by our City Council.

The status quo is unbearable, and with a growing university, that intersection is going to continue getting worse unless these improvements are made.

The environmental impact report is available online at the city website. The traffic mitigation is clearly laid out and I believe it will make one of the most confusing intersections in Davis far more navigable for both cars and bikes.

Please vote yes on Measure A to make Richards safer.

Submitted to CalTrans
Submitted to CalTrans

Richards-B

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17 thoughts on “Measure A Will Make Richards Safer”

  1. Tia Will

    I have seen many comments expressing the opinion that any access to or from Olive Drive is an argument against Nishi. I disagree. I think that Chris Sprague has this one aspect right.

    Until 5 months ago I was either a daily user of the Richards underpass, or a frequent avoider of it by going out of my way using another route to get to work at the South Davis Kaiser. My initial plan had been to walk via Richards to work daily. However, I rapidly became aware that this meant making a dangerous crossing of the freeway onramp and the essentially blind ( to both crossing bikes and pedestrians and to exiting cars)off ramp. My solution was to walk around if I had time, but unfortunately frequently it was to take the car.

    The planned configuration which will be similar to that at Mace will result in a much safer crossing especially for those on foot or bike. For some, it may even be the difference between choosing to use the car or use their feet or bike.

    1. nameless

      Spot on Tia!  In addition, there will be an extension of Olive Drive that will siphon off some of the traffic that ordinarily would go through Richards underpass, and send that traffic through campus instead.

  2. The Pugilist

    What will make Richards safer (and I agree that I’m not sure safety is the issue), would be to get people who are driving to campus and using Richards to use other ways.

  3. Michael Harrington

    Tia,

     

    You really need to see the traffic data before you sign onto their allegations.

    They have not produced the underlying data supporting their rosy story of an intersection that is not too busy.  It’s part of the CEQA case.  We will probably write a major piece on this soon.

    The freeway interchange design changes are not needed, except for the traffic created by Nishi.  And the public is paying for most of those construction costs.

    1. The Pugilist

      The freeway interchange design changes are needed because right now they don’t make any sense and they send multimodes of traffic careening towards each other in high volumes with no controls on their actions.

    2. DavisforNishiGateway

      Mr. Harrington, estimates by experts can vary. Fehr and Peers is one of the most respected firms in the country for traffic engineers, and the final EIR addressed all of the challenges you presented in a detailed and exhaustive manner. It is also quite baseless and factually incorrect to claim that “the freeway interchange design changes are not needed…” This has been a priority for the City for a while–in fact, the plans they submitted to Cal Trans regarding this interchange is pictured in the story above. While you are apparently of the opinion that Richards doesn’t need any changes, I think anyone who has to travel through or near Richards at peak traffic understands that the current situation is untenable and needs solutions. This will happen with or without Nishi–but Nishi will contribute (and save taxpayers) $3 million. What’s more, Nishi will allow people to avoid Richards entirely by the access point from Old Davis Road Nishi will create and facilitate. The bottom line, Nishi invests millions in traffic solutions for an area that desperately needs fixing (whether you acknowledge this or not), creates a new access point via Old Davis Road which will ameliorate traffic to and from the University, and will advance public safety by contributing to redesigning an intersection which is currently hectic and hazardous for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. That is why Nishi’s EIR was unanimously certified by the Planning Commission and the City Council. Nishi is an integral part to a smart and sustainable future for Davis. We invite you to join us in support of this important project.

    3. Matt Williams

      Michael Harrington said . . .  “The freeway interchange design changes are not needed, except for the traffic created by Nishi.”

      I respectfully disagree Mike.  Nishi currently contributes nothing to the freeway interchange volumes, and the design changes are needed.

      The biggest contributor to that need (in my opinion) is the volume of UCD student commuters who are exiting I-80 at Richards, going through the tunnel, turning left on 1st Street and accessing the campus or the neighborhoods near the campus in order to park their cars and go to class.

    4. Tia Will

      Michael

      They have not produced the underlying data supporting their rosy story of an intersection that is not too busy.”

      I disagree with several of your statements. First, I have not heard anyone including Tim Ruff stating any “rosy story  of an intersection that is not too busy”. He has stated publicly on a number of occasions that there will be more traffic ( as is inevitable whether or not Nishi is approved) but rather that the pattern will be less chaotic and safer.

      The freeway interchange design changes are not needed”

      This freeway interchange is dangerous as it is now without Nishi. I have personally witnessed a number of “close calls” at this interchange and it is especially dangerous for pedestrians on those on bikes.

    5. Napoleon Pig IV

      Michael,

      You lost me with this statement:  “The freeway interchange design changes are not needed. . . ”

      Anyone who walks, bikes, or drives through that area, while awake, has known for a long time that changes are needed.

      So, if the only way to make that complex area safe and efficient is to take money from developers, maybe that’s not such a bad idea. If you can get the political system to work the way the politicians claim it does, and fix problems like this in a timely way without private capital trade-offs (pay-offs?), then great. However, at this point I think the balance of trade-offs, including fixing this intersection, favors voting in favor of Nishi.

  4. SlowSoDaMa

    I guess I’m really dim, but I see nothing clear about either of these diagrams.  As a car driver, I’d like to be able to get into town from south Davis without going around via other overpasses.  Can someone explain what this reconfiguration will do for us?

    1. Matt Williams

      SlowSoDaMa, I agree with you that the diagrams are confusing.  The order of the two diagrams should be reversed because the first diagram is an expansion of the blue dotted line section of the second diagram.

      I have rotated the first diagram 90 degrees so that it is aligned along a north/south axis.  In that first diagram the mustard yellow colored area is the bicycle/pedestrian lane.  So a northbound bicycle would start at the bottom of the rotated diagram, and at the traffic signal would turn left and go down the westbound ramp half a level, make a u-turn, and then continue down the eastbound ramp to the bottom, and then turn left to proceed under the ramp, and then up to the new Olive Drive traffic light, which will be just off the top edge of the diagram.  Northbound pedestrians will follow the mustard route until the stairs that take them down to the lower level of the mustard route.

      I believe the areas of the diagram marked LB are lane barriers that will keep thru traffic and turning traffic separate from one another.  So if I were coming from south Davis, I would start in the right lane, and stay in that right lane all the way to the tunnel, knowing that any car in front of me that was making either a right turn or a left turn would have a clear path to leave my lane and execute their turn without stopping in front of me.  I would also know that the cars coming up the westbound I-80 ramp would have four lanes (two turning left onto Olive and one going north on Richards and one turning right on Olive) to accommodate them.
      https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Richards-A-1.png

      That is the way it has been explained to me.

  5. MidCentury

    I think the statement “The Richards Boulevard/Olive Drive area is the most poorly planned intersection in Davis” can be better expressed as “The area surrounding the Richards/Olive Drive intersection is the most poorly planned area in Davis”. 

    The Hotel/Conference center to replace Cafe Italia, and now Nishi are going to make traffic significantly worse regardless of modifications done to the intersections.

    I’m against Nishi if it has anything other than bicycle/pedestrian/emergency vehicle connection to Olive Drive.

     

  6. Tia Will

    MidCentury

    I’m against Nishi if it has anything other than bicycle/pedestrian/emergency vehicle connection to Olive Drive.”

    I felt the same way too, until I realized that there are two issues here that are closely connected, but distinct.One issue is the backup with the wait time and emissions issues. The second is the issue of safety. It is the second that is the most compelling for me given my over riding interest in health and safety.

    However, I also see the importance of the first issue, congestion. My thoughts on this are that the volume of traffic is more complicated than it seems. It is true that more vehicles will be using this intersection with the presence of Nishi. But it is also true that more vehicles will be using this intersection even if Nishi is not approved. So the question for me is “what is the offset ?”. I believe that with the possibility of a more safely accessible intersection, more people might choose to use their feet or bikes thus reducing some of the local demand. This of course will not reduce the demand of those exiting from the freeway, but having an alternative route through Nishi on to campus, and encouraging drivers, perhaps through signage to exit further west to access the university could be seen as improvements over what we have now.

    This calls to mind arguments I heard against the changes to 5th street with people insisting that it was an expensive boondoggle that would make cross town traffic worse. I doubt many believe that is the case now that we have seen it in action. I would hope that some might be willing to take the same open minded approach to Nishi.

     

     

    1. Ron

      Tia”  “But it is also true that more vehicles will be using this intersection even if Nishi is not approved.”

      Perhaps, but not nearly as many if the current Nishi development proposal is rejected. Adding new residential and commercial development rarely improves traffic/congestion at existing intersections and roadways.

  7. Odin

    This still does NOTHING to reduce the danger to those heading west on Olive.  The city already did a quick fix in front of Dutch Brothers that does little to reduce the problem.  I hung out there yesterday and cars who used to turn left into DB (now blocked by flexible posts) now just make illegal u-turns in front of Redrum creating a whole new hazard.  How can anyone actually believe that additional cars coming from Nishi will make the situation better?  I’m stunned by the naivety of locals being deceived by buzzwords such as “sustainable” and “ecologically sound” being pushed by the developers.  This is all about money folks.  Not much different than the deceptions thrown at us by the folks who tried to sell us Covell Village.

  8. MidCentury

    This calls to mind arguments I heard against the changes to 5th street with people insisting that it was an expensive boondoggle that would make cross town traffic worse. I doubt many believe that is the case now that we have seen it in action. I would hope that some might be willing to take the same open minded approach to Nishi.

    I was for the traffic calming on 5th street and believed in it based on the accurate traffic studies and examples of how it had worked in other cities. I haven’t seen anything that convinces me that the proposed changes will handle the increased traffic this project (and the previously approved conference center) will create.

     

     

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