In a story that caught my eye, the Enterprise ran one about the frustration residents are feeling by Mace Blvd. roadwork. A few public commenters last Tuesday raised the issue and Mayor Brett Lee informed them that there would be a meeting at the South Davis fire station at 5 pm on Wednesday to address concerns.
As Brett Lee stated at the meeting, he and city staff will be present to meet with residents “to hear the neighbors’ concerns and hear from the fire chief and the design team to talk about the intent (of the project) and … what has been constructed.”
I understand that construction can be inconvenient at times – but the city’s roadways have greatly deteriorated over the last nine years as funding has dwindled. The council and city have done a good job of carving out both general fund money for road repair and applying for grants for new projects to save money. This has become more important since the voters voted down local funding for roads.
This is one of them – this was a $3 million grant application with SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) to pay for improvements to bike and pedestrian safety, while at the same time getting money to resurface Mace Blvd.
I get it – road work is never fun, but it’s essential. Last year, I had to re-route taking the kids to school as the city improved the Drummond-Cowell intersection to put in a traffic circle. The construction, of course, went a few months over, the but the result is a far safer and quicker intersection.
The fact is, I drive through the Cowell-Mace intersection every day. They have created a four-way stop instead of a traffic light controlled intersection. It probably slows down the north-south traffic on Mace by a little bit, but not much. It really functions quite well.
And I understand, they are probably two months behind where they said they would be – but it is really not a big deal.
It read a comment on Facebook that the city is doing a lot at once. In one sense that is true, you see major work on several spots in town – like 3rd Street and L Street. But is it really that much work? It is hard to time out longer road projects to stagger them when there are limited months when work can proceed, and sometimes the work gets delayed.
The article notes: “But many Davis residents who live near or travel through the area have expressed frustration over increased travel times and questioned whether the changes have really made anything safer.”
I don’t really understand these complaints. The travel time for the most part is only marginally impacted – and perhaps not by that much.
But how is someone in position to question whether the changes will make anything safer when, in fact, nothing is completed and we have ample studies and other determinations to back up traffic safety issues?
There is a separate issue that I think is worth looking into more – even before these changes, Friday afternoons driving even the side streets has become impacted. It used to be the freeway traffic onto the Causeway would back up starting 2 or 3 in the afternoon and start hitting as the lanes condense around Richards Blvd.
There were easy ways around such traffic, however – you simply get off the highway and could drive on Chiles or Cowell to get to the eastern parts of South Davis. No more.
Now you are likely to find traffic backing up along Chiles, Cowell and both southbound Mace from the Mace Curve to I-80 and northbound Mace south of the freeway all the way back to El Macero.
That may be triggering some of the complaints about intersection – but that really has nothing to do with the construction, as the traffic stays congested all the way to the highway.
The city probably has no real way around that until and unless the Causeway is widened. There is simply a bottleneck starting around UC Davis as the lanes having temporarily increased to as many as six drop all the way down to three and remain bottlenecked at the Causeway.
A few years ago, the traffic problems were attributed to the proliferation of apps diverting people onto surface streets, causing congestion on those surface streets. That problem seemed to be alleviated for a while but it is now back.
Another complaint that people raise in the article is the lack of notification informing them of the project prior to it beginning. The article points out that there were ample notifications that appeared in newspapers and on social media like NextDoor.
The reality is that people miss these notifications because they are not paying attention. We saw this with the switch over from PG&E to Valley Clean Energy. People suddenly complained that they didn’t know this was happening, even though there had been numerous public meetings and articles.
Lesson is: people are not paying attention. And then they wonder why they miss stuff.
Now the city is going to go out of their way for another public meeting on a project that is almost completed. People have to be a bit more tolerant about traffic delays sometimes.
Again, the biggest issue is traffic being diverted onto surface streets during peak hours – which is going to be a problem with or without the construction.
—David M. Greenwald reporting