While the council looked at longer-term fixes for Mace Boulevard back when they met last on April 23, one of the quick and relatively inexpensive fixes will be at the corner of Mace and San Marino, where a consent item will authorize the installation of a multi-way stop at the intersection.
The cost will be about $1000 for the stop signs. At their last meeting, council directed staff not only to install the multi-way stop, but “to place the existing Hawk signal [High Intensity-Activated crossWalk Beacon, also known as a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon, or PHB] into flash to supplement the multi-way stop.”
Staff notes: “This direction was based upon concerns of the neighborhood with respect to the lack of sight distance for those entering Mace Boulevard from San Marino Drive.”
Part of the problem here is that the increased traffic caused by the redirection of I-80 traffic to local streets via the Waze app has decreased the amount of gaps in the traffic on Mace, thereby making it more difficult to execute a left turn from San Marino onto Mace.
In reviewing the intersection, staff does not believe that a traffic signal is justified based on collision data for the last 12-month period, which shows only one traffic collision. Moreover, in viewing the volume of traffic for the intersection, staff found “the volume for this intersection also does not meet the conditions for installation.”
However, staff does believe, “Council has authority to approve the installation of a stop controlled intersection.”
If approved, “the stop signs will be installed and the existing Hawk signal will be placed in the flash mode to bring awareness to the required multi-way stop.”
The San Marino intersection was the easiest and quickest of the fixes that council looked at in April. They also asked the council to fix turn radiuses at Mace and Cowell, believing that they are too tight and lead to potential conflicts between vehicles turning right and on-coming traffic.
The bigger question, though, will be dealing with overall concerns about the traffic flow on Mace Blvd.
Mayor Brett Lee explained, “I can tell you where the process went wrong before, I’ll be candid… the process went wrong when we would have average designs put before us and when we have average designs put before us, average people are able to make suggestions to slightly improve the average design.
“This is good, but I believe there’s better,” he said.
What the mayor was looking to do is to utilize the expertise of design firms that are meant to be the experts, and give them a broader range to address the concerns on Mace.
“We give that to the professional designers and they can incorporate it,” he said. “We don’t have that expertise… I’m extremely reluctant to follow a process that didn’t work before.”
But there are questions as to the nature of the problem and the appropriate solution.
Some believed, as did a letter writer to the Vanguard from El Macero, that we were doing fine and the city unnecessarily created a problem by making changes.
The letter writer noted: “In the first meeting we had with the city the manager said they have a grade for every street and intersection in Davis. When asked what our grade was on Mace he said it was a B! Not a D! Not an F but a B. We were doing fine. No one consulted us about any changes and in fact they didn’t consult the county.”
On the other hand, parents with children spoke out and had a different view.
One parent explained, “When I was chair of the bike program, we didn’t actually encourage more kids to bike and the reason was because we didn’t want to cause more safety issues because putting small kids out on Mace when there isn’t protection between the cars and the kids is a little dangerous.”
She said, “It’s four lanes of traffic and it’s a very fast road. People use it like a freeway.”
Another one said, “Mace before the project was terrifying.” He added, “There was no way that most people who live west of that street were going to allow their kids to go north or south on that street and then cross it.”
The mayor said he believed we should be able to both restore traffic capacity on Mace and have bicycle safety.
There are also concerns that the real problem is not the current road design, but traffic apps directing traffic through local streets.
“There may be ways to design our roads and our intersections to address that… but there’s really not that much we can do about that,” Will Arnold explained.
He noted that CalTrans does have a project in the pipeline to add a vehicle lane in a couple of directions on I-80 from Kidwell to past Sacramento. “But that is years off,” he said. “Their traffic projections indicate it’s only going to get more impacted.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting