City Will Be Looking at Making Tweaks to Mace Blvd in Wake of Complaints

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In the last several weeks, the city has continued to receive many complaints about congestion and traffic impacts related to Mace Boulevard.  Police Chief Darren Pytel explained to the Vanguard that in the wake of some of these complaints, the city will starting laying out changes ahead of a scheduled April 11 meeting at the South Davis Fire Station.

“It’s pretty obvious that there’s a couple of tweaks that need to be made to the design out there,” Chief Pytel said via a phone interview on Thursday.  The city went ahead and completed the road on Wednesday by finishing the pavement, even though those changes would not preclude changes at a later point in time.

“The engineers have been spending a couple of days working on some of the tweaks,” he said.  He said they plan on being able to roll out “a laundry list of suggestions to the public next week at the April 11 meeting.”

Their plan is to get feedback from the public at the April 11 meeting in the hopes of getting this issue formally in front of council for the April 28 meeting (at the earliest) or early May.  The hope is to have a plan in place by the time the May 15 meeting comes around.

“There are so many people providing misinformation,” he said.  “That’s one of the things we are trying to get on top of.”

Chief Pytel explained that “some of the concrete work is obviously reversible.”  He noted they will do lane striping, but using paint “which is easy to lay over” as opposed to normal striping which would require grounding out, which is more expensive to do.

“We’re trying to make it the safest we can during this interim period,” he said.  “We’re definitely listening to the community concerns, some of them are quite valid.”

He explained that when he went out to view the road, there were immediately a couple of changes that had to be made.  Chief Pytel had concerns that are a bit different from some of the public concerns.  He believes, for instance, that at the Mace and Cowell intersection the corners are “too tight” and drivers unfamiliar with the roadway could end up in the opposing traffic lane when they make a right turn.  They need to allow for more room to make those turns.

At San Marino, he explained there are some visibility and line-of-sight issues for people coming out of San Marino onto Mace.  “We’re doing traffic counts to see if we can put in stop signs or even a light there,” he said, to reconfigure that intersection to make it safer.

“One of the suggestions is going to be to increase (Mace) back to four lanes in the stretch between El Macero and Cowell,” he said.  “The fortunate thing is that area is really wide.  By re-tooling some of the bike tracks, that can probably be accomplished to alleviate some of the congestion.”

But the big fixes have to do with the on-ramp to I-80.

He said that the city has contacted Caltrans to figure out ways to deal with the on-ramps so that “more cars can be queued on the on-ramps, which will hopefully reduce the number of cars queued on Mace Blvd. and Chiles, which is really where the fundamental thing creating the issues with the gridlock out there.

“There’s not much we can do about all the traffic apps re-routing traffic,” he said.  “They’re basic algorithms and they’re public roads so we can’t really stop people from using them.

“We think the key is trying to reduce the cars queuing on Mace Blvd. and Chiles and hopefully that should alleviate some of the gridlock,” he said.  “So at least all the local people can get to other streets and around the area.”

Chief Pytel told the Vanguard that they weren’t able to get traffic counts of cars coming from outside the city and using Mace as the access point to I-80.

They do, however, have data on traffic by time periods, with the caveat that some of the data will be skewed due to a lot of roadwork.  In addition, the spring break last week allowed for a brief respite in the traffic impacts along the corridor.

“Last week was really not representative of a normal week because the schools were out,” he explained.  “I sent an officer out there on Thursday and Friday night which was the reported worst time, and traffic was smooth sailing.”

That was not a representative week, he said: “We realize that.”

The biggest problem times are Thursday and Friday during peak hours, as most people have been aware.  The traffic starts as early as 3 pm and goes as late as 7:30 or 8 pm.

Using mapping technology, “You can definitely see Mace, Chiles, and Cowell pretty severely impacted by what appears to be freeway traffic during these times,” he explained.  “Most of the other days in the week, you can kind of get through.”

Monday, he said, is really good, then it picks up on Tuesday and Wednesday.  “Thursday is actually some of the worst traffic,” he said.  “It appears that a lot of the UCD students and staff, who are leaving town, are leaving on Thursdays because traffic really backs up coming off campus.”

They will be meeting on Thursday, April 11, at 6 pm at the South Davis Fire Station to lay out some preliminary analysis and get feedback.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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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17 thoughts on “City Will Be Looking at Making Tweaks to Mace Blvd in Wake of Complaints”

  1. Edgar Wai

    It seems that Chief Pytel deserves some kudos for taking on this task addressin the issues. It is related to public safety, but to me this feels like an extra effort.

  2. Todd Edelman

    Can we count how many cars have only one person in them? Can we “fix” some of this with public transport – e.g. point-to-point buses from El Macero, the Nugget lot and perhaps others to Sacramento and also services terminating at Davis Depot, synchronized with train departure and arrival times, and an autonomous shuttle that serves Nugget? Promote cargo-carrying e-bikes to local residents? Getting our good Nugget family to lead an effort to charge for parking at all supermarkets in the City? Toll drivers that use traffic apps by detecting both ends of their diversion? Is Chief Pytel a traffic engineer?

    1. Ron Oertel

      Todd:  I suspect that the answer to all of your questions is “no”.

      Regarding your last question – that no longer seems to be a “requirement” regarding proposed changes, and one might wonder if it ever was in the first place.

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  😉

    2. Alan Miller

      Getting our good Nugget family to lead an effort to charge for parking at all supermarkets in the City?

      Can we get Nugget to discourage business at their Supermarket and instead go to other stores that don’t charge for parking?   Hmmmmmm . . .

    3. David Takemoto-Weerts

      I don’t expect that Chief Pytel is a traffic engineer, but I do trust his opinion on traffic matters to the extent that is police experience relates to traffic safety. No, I don’t want the police planning our traffic infrastructure, but I value their input.

      Is Todd Edelman a traffic engineer?

      1. Darell Dickey

        “…police experience relates to traffic safety”

        Without intending to put words in your mouth, I have to assume that when you say “traffic safety,” that you mean the convenience of motor vehicle drivers.  Because none of the suggestions that I’ve heard from law enforcement have had anything to do with the safety, convenience nor comfort of the vulnerable users.

        For some reason, this conversation has managed to veer solidly into a “what’s best for the drivers” echo chamber.

        1. John Hobbs

          SPOILER ALERT

          “Without intending to put words in your mouth,”

          You do anyway, lol.

          As disingenuous as the old standby, “No offense intended..’

          Are all Davis bikees so delusive?

        2. Ron Oertel

          Darrell:  Seems like you didn’t read the article, above:

          Chief Pytel had concerns that are a bit different from some of the public concerns.  He believes, for instance, that at the Mace and Cowell intersection the corners are “too tight” and drivers unfamiliar with the roadway could end up in the opposing traffic lane when they make a right turn.”

          Of course, the chief is probably not the best person to design a fix, nor would he necessarily know what the other ramifications of doing so might be.

          Others have mentioned (blocked) emergency vehicle access.

          Unfortunately, it seems like the city didn’t anticipate the ramifications when approving this project in the first place. (I have yet to see any explanation regarding how that occurred.)

          From article: “Last week was really not representative of a normal week because the schools were out,” he explained.

  3. Rik Keller

    I visited twice this week to see what the commotion was about: Wednesday at ~5:25PM and tonight (Friday) at ~5:15PM. On Wednesday I observed the traffic backup at the signal northbound on Mace at Cowell at  3-4 cars. Tonight it was a bit more at 12 cars.

    I then drove north on Mace from S. El Macero to Chiles around 5:25PM just to see how long it would take. Missed one cycle at the light at Cowell and was the second car back for the next. I was only delayed the length of one light cycle (maybe 1.5 minutes?). Google Maps showed this as a red segment (not the darkest red maroon) at the time. It wasn’t bad at all.

    Meanwhile, I-80 eastbound was a virtual parking lot from Hwy 113 on.

    Whatever problems existed earlier during construction before the new lights were installed at Mace & Cowell seem to be gone now.

    1. Darell Dickey

      In my errands today, I encountered cars stopped for blocks on First St, on Second St, on Pole Line, on 8th St, on 5th St, on B St, on Cowell at Richards and on HWY 80.

      /truth

      Clearly we need to add more lanes and increase the corner radiuses in many, many places in town. And add more parking structures, duh.

      /sarcasm.

      1. Rik Keller

        Darrell Dickey: good point. And Chief Pytel made those comments before the lanes have been striped, right? Of course people can’t see where the lanes are before they have been marked!

        With my observations from Friday yesterday added to Pytel’s observations from Friday a week ago, traffic concerns appear to be a non-issue now that the signal light is functional. I’d be interested if anyone can document anything otherwise.

        1. Craig Ross

          Rik Keller who will not read this is making the same mistake as the neighbors in reverse.  It has been documented that traffic was extraordinarily bad two years ago when the roads were not under constructed.  To declare the problem solved is a mistake.  It’s not solved.  The problems leading up to these problems are still there.

    2. Rik Keller

      If anyone wants to monitor conditions remotely, I found Google Maps to be very accurate in travel time estimates yesterday afternoon.

      I plugged in a route from the El Macero Country Club parking lot to the Taco Bell parking lot on Chiles and used the S. El Macero Dr. route to Mace. At Friday 4/5/2019 at around 5:25PM, Google Maps showed this 1.5-mile route as 6 min. driving time and I actually drove it in 6 min. 15 sec. With no traffic, Google Maps estimates that route to take a driving time of 5 minutes.

       

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