City Gets Grant Funding For Richards Blvd Interchange Improvement, Other Projects

The city of Davis will finally have the money needed to complete the I-80/ Richards Blovd Interchange Improvement Project that the city has been seeking to achieve for years now.  The $5 million in grants is one of three projects funded through SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) for a total of $8.1 million.

“This grant money will significantly advance much-needed transportation infrastructure improvements and sustainability goals, while yielding numerous community benefits including improved safety and reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” said Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, who serves as Davis’ representative on the SACOG Board of Directors.

With the $5 million for the Richards Blvd Improvement Project, the city will be able to add a grade separated Class I pathway under the westbound I-80 onramp to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety between Research Park Drive in South Davis to First Street in Downtown Davis.

The city will then be able to reconfigure the Richards Boulevard westbound I-80 ramps from a cloverleaf to a tight diamond to create additional intersection spacing with Olive Drive.

The city plans to signalize the Richards Blvd exit from westbound I-80 to improve the flow of vehicles merging with vehicles already queued on Richards Boulevard at the Olive Drive intersection.

Finally, the city will officially close the Olive Drive exit from westbound I-80 to prevent vehicles from using the exit as a thoroughfare to improve safety in the Olive Drive neighborhood.

The city is also receiving two other grants – it announced on Wednesday.

It will get $2.9 million to support the Electrify Yolo Project.  This is a joint proposal between the City of Davis, the City of Woodland, the County of Yolo, and Valley Clean Energy, the region’s community choice energy provider.

The release notes, “the exact number of chargers and infrastructure is contingent upon the completion of a more detailed engineering cost estimate.”

Preliminarily the city is looking to add up to 60 240-volt, networked, level 2 electric vehicle charging stations throughout Yolo County, of which approximately 20 will be installed in Davis

They will also look to add 2-5 fast chargers in downtown areas near highway corridors, of which at least 2 will be installed in Davis and add up to 10 mobile, solar powered, electric vehicle chargers, of which all 10 will be available in Davis.

The city will also be purchasing an electric bus to serve Davis with local discretion on route priorities.

The final grant is $200,000 to support the County Road 32A Railroad Crossing Relocation Study, a joint proposal between the City of Davis and the County of Yolo.  There are concerns raised about the safety of this crossing and talk that Union Pacific will unilaterally close it.

This grant will allow the city and county to study the County Road 32A railroad crossing, located just east of Davis and north of I-80.  They will review the alternatives and identify the preferred option.  And then create a project scope and cost estimate for a potential crossing enhancement and/or relocation.

The funding is part of a process administered by SACOG, the Sacramento region’s association of local governments. Once SACOG executes grant agreements in early 2019, the City will establish more definitive details and timelines for each project.

These grants add to an increasing list of awards the City has recently received. The City estimates that in the past few years, it has successfully secured over $14.8 million in grant funds.

“The three SACOG grants represent tangible results from the City’s efforts to pursue and leverage grant opportunities. It is also exciting to see how multiple public entities are working collaboratively to achieve mutual goals that will positively impact the entire region,” said Mayor Brett Lee.

The city has been looking to improve Richards for a long time.  In the late 1990s, the voters turned down a measure that would have widened Richards tunnel under the railroad tracks.

During the 2016 Nishi proposal, the developers were going to invest roughly $23 million in infrastructure improvements including creating a widened West Olive Drive with a new route onto campus to bypass the tunnel.

However, the voters rejected that version of Nishi and the new version stipulates no access to Olive Drive.  The city estimated in addition to the $23 million from the Nishi project, about $10 million overall was needed for improvements, much of which would come from state and federal funding.

City Manager Mike Webb told the Vanguard that the $5 million will pay for just under half of the construction of the interchange.

“The project construction cost is estimated at around $11m, and we have already expended some funds for design and environmental review,” Mr. Webb explained.  “To the extent that the remaining funds are local funds, they would come from a combination of roadway impact fees from development projects (Lincoln 40, Nishi, hotels, etc…), Redevelopment Agency bond proceeds (which must be used in the former RDA project area and consistent with the former 5 year RDA implementation plan – which Richards interchange is both), and $500k from UC Davis as agreed to in the recent MOU.”

He said, “We are exploring other sources as well. Final funding package decisions will be made by the City Council when we do the bid process.  Of note, Roadway Impact fees cannot be used for maintenance but are used for upgrades and improvements such as this.”

Not included in this round was funding for the Olive to Depot bike and pedestrian crossing.  That is part of a separate application through Active Transportation Program or State ATP Funds where the city requested $5.9 million and should hear back in January or February.

Mike Webb said that at the January 22, 2019 Council Meeting, the City will provide an overview of their grant program and review the various grant efforts.

He said, “Our grant efforts are significant and now total about $14.8m in grants awarded, or very recently completed.  We have an additional $8.3m in grant applications currently submitted and pending decisions (including the $5.9m noted above for Olive).  This is about ¼ of our annual general fund budget in awarded grants and about 1/3 of our annual general fund budget in awarded and pending grants (over $23m).”

—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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  1. Rik Keller

    Just as a reminder of how things change in 2.5 years (hey, though I thought there were problems with the project I supported it primarily due to this reason too):
    “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.”


    1. Craig Ross

      As someone who worked on the 2016 campaign, Rik as usual has no idea what he’s talking about.  From the link he just posted: “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.”. $23 million is a lot more than the $10 million this is covering.  We don’t have a bypass of Richards like we would have had.  So he’s plain wrong here.

  2. Rik Keller

    Hmmmm, somebody is getting unreasonable bent out of shape. My only editorializing was how much things change in 2.5 years. That is undeniably true: now there is funding for interchange improvements.

  3. Craig Ross

    The bottom line here is that we had a chance through Nishi 1 to fix Richards.  Now we have a half-solution whereby the entrance through town remains a one lane road (in each direction) that empties onto single lane roads in the downtown.  That’s not a solution.  Based on that Maynard Skinner was right, Rik Keller is wrong.

  4. Todd Edelman

    At the very least private automobiles should have robust alternatives so that they’re only used when most appropriate, and at the very least they should be powered with renewable sources that emit as little pollution as possible.  Electric charging stations are, therefore, a basic utility going forward, though hopefully soon vehicle pricing/leasing will see decreases and user fees for EV’s will increase, as these vehicles use infrastructure that’s partly paid for with fuel taxes for gas and Diesel (clearly, EV’s have far less external costs that those with internal conbustion engines.)

    My only truly favored part of the 80-Richards project is the closure of the ramp to East Olive – about the rest my opinion is mixed: It’s not clear how long the congestion advantages projected for the new design will last, as there’s nothing new for public transportation on 80 or any concrete advantages for alternative ways to cross the highway. The new route that has cyclists separated from traffic is shared with pedestrians – making things less safe for both – and also requires cyclists to accelerate up a grade next to westbound traffic. The existing route from near the end of Research Park, under the highway and the railway, will likely stay the preferred route as it connects directly to campus and to Nishi, and especially it gets the fully-separated feeder path it deserves on the south side.

    So, for better or worse, millions is going to several important transport projects. What’s quite unfortunate is that SACOG and its city partners (Davis, West Sac and Sac) are allowing the regional bike share system to be financed primarily by venture capital. Though it didn’t have to, the result of this is that the bike sharing product of Uber – who purchased Jump well after SACOG signed a contract with them – has restrictions that would be simply not possible on public transportation. Jump’s maximum weight limit of 210 lbs. Is just over the regional average for a male of average height — combined with its min. 18 age-limit a lot of tax-paying citizens perfectly able to ride these bikes are excluded from doing so.

    Today at the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission’s meeting at the Senior Center at 530pm, we are starting a review of the bike share program in which I am going to propose that City Council ask the City’s legal team – and the same  to counterparts in the other cities – if they think that the age 18 limit is in violation of Federal law: The Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which states that “…no person in the United States shall, on the basis of age, be excluded from participation, in be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” SACOG has and continues to receive Federal funding for bike share, used to both start the program and for ongoing administrative costs. The Act does not – in my interpretation – make an exception for this age restriction as bicycles are heavily promoted for under-18 youth in all the partner cities and by SACOG itself, and also heavily used in Davis.

    Naturally, I am also going to propose that the bike share system should be re-municipalized, with business model and structure similar to either government entities like SacRT which runs its own services, or like the YCTD which contracts an outside mobility operator to run its buses. Uber and its competitors could still participate in the latter structure, but with our rules relating to equity and inclusion — because we’re funding it, just as we’re funding these other transportation projects.

    1. Todd Edelman

      Correction: Just after I wrote this I was told that tonight’s meeting will address other issues with bike share (the ordinance itself) and that next month we will review Jump. There’s still some overlap….

  5. Jim Frame

    Redevelopment Agency bond proceeds (which must be used in the former RDA project area and consistent with the former 5 year RDA implementation plan – which Richards interchange is both), and $500k from UC Davis as agreed to in the recent MOU.

    Am I the only one who thinks that UCD is getting off easy with an ante of only half a million, when it’s mostly their traffic that clogs up Richards during commute hours?

    1. Howard P

      No… you are not alone in that thought… reality is they (UCD) has no legal requirement.  And so, … it is what it is…

      Actually, the City doesn’t, either… more a political requirement… when Maynard voted for/encouraged the vote in 1972 to “fix” the problem, the State would have put up ~ 87% of the money to widen the undercrossing of (then) SPRR… the good citizens of Davis voted that down… to keep So Davis from developing… yeah, stroke of genius!  That worked out great!

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