200 Show Up at Pioneer Demanding the City Change Mace Back

Fehr & Peers consultant Adrian Engel presents their report

It was large crowd, at times angry, as many of them were not going to be satisfied with any answer other than to turn Mace Boulevard back to the way it was – this despite considerable evidence presented on Thursday suggesting that I-80, not the road configuration, is the cause of the traffic delays.

Chief Darren Pytel said, “Everyone is familiar with the gridlock out there and we really want to focus on whether we can improve that.”  He said that what they aren’t going to do right now is go out there with a sledgehammer and take out the concrete.

He added, “What we’ve been striving for is to make sure that we can increase the flow for regular vehicles that also keeps some of the design guidelines in there to help with bicycle and pedestrian flow as well.

“There is a way to do it with the amount of land that’s available,” he said.

A consultant, Adrian Engel from Fehr & Peers, then discussed their traffic model.  He explained that they were asked to look at Mace Blvd. between Montgomery Ave. and the freeway.  Their main focus is on conditions experienced on Thursday and Friday afternoons and evenings, when they see an increase of about 200 cars per hour coming up from the south from Tremont Rd. up Mace and adding to the congestion on the corridor.

They have five evaluation criteria.  First is the travel time savings related to local travel time within Davis from Montgomery to Chiles.  In a free-flowing condition, that takes about two minutes.  He said that in a congested condition they’ve seen that take up to six minutes in their model.

That response drew jeers and he quickly added that when they have actually tested it in the field, is was at 35 minutes.  “We understand,” he said.  “We had to model the typical condition, not the absolute worst condition.  I understand there are times when it gets worse out there and the corridor chokes itself out.”

Second, they are looking at local travel time to I-80, from Montgomery to I-80.

“We understand you need to get to the freeway sometimes as well,” he said.  “So we can’t penalize everyone getting to the freeway as one of the solutions to deal with some of that cut through traffic.”

He noted in their model they are seeing 11 to 12 minutes, “so an additional five minutes just to get from Chiles onto the freeway when it’s congested.”  He added that “a lot of that time is spent stuck in that queue.”

Finally there is the regional cut-through traffic, and they have found at least 200 cars per hour that are getting off the freeway in Dixon and taking Tremont Rd. east to Mace, then going north on Mace in order to get onto the freeway – that is taking about 13 minutes in their model.

He said, “What we’re seeing it’s about a 10 minute difference.”  So by getting off at Dixon and instead of traveling east on 80, the vehicles are saving about 10 minutes of time.

He pointed out, “Anything that we do along this corridor to make it faster to get up Mace from south of Montgomery all the way up to the freeway will potentially draw more traffic off of 80 onto Mace.”

The solutions they want are to get help the local community get through Mace better, “but dissuade some of the regional cut through traffic that’s using Mace as a bypass for 80.”

He presented three primary improvement strategies.  The first is new traffic signals along the corridor that can “help meter some of the traffic that’s coming from the south and create gaps in that traffic,” and “it can help control the flow so you can monitor the flow in a progression through some of the intersections.”

He suggested that a series of signals would help control the flow, just as what exists along other corridors off the freeway but is lacking at Mace.

“Additional signals can help that without having to add capacity,” he said.

The second improvement is “adding lanes back to the roadway that were previously taken away.”

That drew a hearty applause.

Councilmember Frerichs discusses the handouts with a constituent

He pointed out that this will “allow some of the local traffic to bypass the queue to be able to get around some of the traffic.”  He warned that by creating additional capacity, “it could induce people to leave 80 at Dixon and drive into this community.”

He warned that could mean, instead of 200 cars, there could be 400 cars because I-80 hasn’t gotten better yet and there is additional capacity on this road.

Finally he suggested adding ramp meters to the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) bypass lane at the freeway on-ramp.  Right now he said half of the cars jump over to the HOV lane to bypass the traffic signal because they’ve been sitting on Mace for 35 minutes and calculate it is unlikely they will be caught and ticketed.

“As they do that they are entering the freeway faster than what the meter would normally allow which then creates congestion and back up on the freeway.”  He said that creates additional congestion and increases people bypassing I-80.

CalTrans estimates that by doing that they could save one to three minutes on I-80, thereby reducing the amount of time lost by staying on the freeway.

After the Fehr & Peers presentation, they took a number of questions from the public – some devolved into comments and finger-pointing.

Darren Smith got up there and said, “This a public safety disaster.”  He said, “I have spoken with the people at the fire department, they cannot get out of their fire stations, get to your neighborhood.

“How do you take a bad situation and make it worse?” he asked, before Chief Pytel calmly took the mic from him.

Another person said, “We’ve all recommended as citizens of south Davis to turn it back to the way it was.”

One person asked, “My understanding is that one thing that prompted this project was an attempt to encourage more kids to ride bicycles to school – do we know if that’s been achieved?”

A city official said that they counted 105 kids riding their bikes to school in one hour through the intersection of Mace and Cowell.

In addition, the city has data from Pioneer Elementary that shows bike ridership up from 17 percent last year to 34 percent this year.

A parent of kids at Pioneer spoke.

Mayor Lee addresses a question

“I live on the other side of Mace and for the first time since my kids have been at Pioneer I finally feel that they can safely ride their bikes to school,” she said, citing three reasons.  A protected bike lane.  There is no longer a free right turn.  “Three, all those bright red lights at San Marino make me feel safe enough for them to cross Mace there.”

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs pointed out that we have 160,000 people coming across the Causeway from Sacramento each day.  That number is only going to get worse.

“Many agencies are working on a variety of solutions for this,” he said.  “It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.  It’s not going to sadly be overnight when we need it.”

There will be, he said, an open house by CalTrans, “to show what they’re actually doing to increase the capacity of 80 because we all know the issues that are associated with the gridlock.”

In the meantime, staff and consultants will continue looking at removing vertical curbs and replacing them with mountable curbs to improve emergency vehicle access, the intersection design at Mace and Cowell, and the signal improvements at Mace and San Marino, as well as bikeway improvements along the entire corridor.

There is a council meeting scheduled for mid-November where recommendations may go forward.

—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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  1. Alan Miller

    Are there any non-white people in south Davis?

    (I wouldn’t even notice this, except the Vanguard has hyper-tuned my brain to racial ratios.  I really have to stop reading this blog.  Is there are Davis Vanguard Anonymous meeting today?)

    1. Bill Marshall

      Alan… you missed the memo?  Meet was @ 8 A today… DVA has been spotty on their newsletters… I suspect, due to too many ‘back-sliders’… but, harder than tobacco or heroin to really “get clean” of…

    2. Craig Ross

      I heard a rumor that the only non-white people there were Gloria and Brett on the council.  Few people under the age of 60 either.

      That’s meant to be descriptive not prejudicial.  There seems to be a significant population missing from the discussion.

      1. Alan Miller

        There seems to be a significant population missing from the discussion.

        I am usually an “if you want to be represented, you need to show up” kind of guy.  But the audience mono-type here is rather stark.  Something isn’t right here.

        1. Darell Dickey

          I never know how to feel about comments like this. I don’t *enjoy* showing up to these meetings where everybody hates what I have to say, but feel that I must. I’m white. I can’t help it. I have a kid, and can’t stuff that back into non-existence either. I live in South Davis. I suppose I could move. But…. why do I feel guilty about being white AND living in South Davis AND giving a damn about the angry mob only caring about driving faster?

          I so wanted to say: Raise your hand if you are part of the problem. But instead, I stunned them into silence with a comment and question about stuff that nobody understands or cares about: Best practices road design and our Davis standards.


      2. Darell Dickey

        In general, the comments (and cheering) from the over 60 crowd was angry and against anything that didn’t include “put it back to how it was.” The under 60 crowd (raises hand) was more concerned with human safety than with speed of cars. The parents of kids who attend Pioneer are wildly under-represented at these things for several reasons:

        1. The massive intimidation factor. Nobody likes to be in the room with (or sitting next to a member of) an angry mob of 200 people who are looking out for their own convenience over the safety of our school kids.

        2.  These are often parents of younger children, and these events are always held at times when families typically choose to be together for dinner and bedtime… and often cannot be out begging for scraps of infrastructure for their children.

        The retired folks from El Macero have no such competition for their time.

        It would appear that 4-5 of us arrived without driving a car. The parking lot, and most of the surrounding street parking was chalk full of cars. Again… raise your hand if you’re part of the problem.

        1. David Greenwald

          I definitely agree that there is a large intimidation factor going on here. Anyone who said something out of step was booed – and that is not an isolated response – it has happened for several discussions.

    3. Alan Pryor

      Are there any non-white people in south Davis?

      Lots! But not in El Macero which seemed to be where the bulk of the complainers at the meeting were from. It seemed like none of those folks give a hoot about kids’ bicycling safety which, I am guessing, is because there are hardly any bicycling kids living there.

      Hope the Council doesn’t cave and spend a lot of “our” money meeting “their” demands recognizing that El Macero residents neither vote in Davis City Council elections nor contribute to the maintenance of City roads.

      1. Alan Miller

        not in El Macero which seemed to be where the bulk of the complainers at the meeting were from.

        Ahhhhhh . . . it’s all starting to make sense now.  El Macero isn’t in Davis and doesn’t want to be.  Let them build their own connection to I-80 out the east side and seal them off to Davis.  I give not a whits cr*p about these non-citizens.  City Council — ignore them!

        1. Bill Marshall

          Nor, “Old Willowbank”, nor “Binning Tract”, nor “North Davis Meadows”… they want /demand the services, the privileges, conveniences, as long as zero or de minimus costs… and, of course a “say” in all of that.   They probably want free fries with that all, too… all the benefits of city life (plus the fries), and only the financial responsibilities of CSA’s…  very logical… nice life if you can get it.  Very rational… and self-serving… you have to protect your priorities…

          Did the County come to the plate for County contributions?   Originally, and/or now?

          There is history as to who was responsible for the R/W between Mace and I-80… NB 100% County… yet not one scintilla of financial contributions… the supervisor of the district is representing his non-City constituents VERY well…

          None of South Davis was even annexed unti ~ 1968… after many houses were built…

    4. Darell Dickey

      Yes, but my wife was at work and could not attend.

      And there *were* several non-white and non-native-English-speakers in the crowd (note that I have no idea if they were from South Davis, or from South non-Davis. )

    1. Alan Miller

      Agree!  It certainly is a major argument not to go back to four lanes.  That’s a DOUBLING.

      They do need to do something about the life-size, cement, pinball-slot, modern-art project, however.

      And cutoff all access to that troubling Solano County.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Just as one example: if one uses the numeric values for letters, DIXON is 65… multiplied by the approximate gravitational constant of 10.2462 m/s/s for Uranus, that gives you 666… “the sign of the beast!”

        We have met the enemy, and it is THEM (others) [like we have no part in the delays/queues…]

        Yes, tongue fully in cheek… you pick which one…

        1. Bill Marshall

          Actually, my hands are clean as to Mace… first I heard about it, it was approved, funded, and being implemented… as to I-80, yeah, use that, but choose off-peak hours… As Billy Joel might sing, on this matter, at least, “I’m an Innocent Man”…

          And, I think some of the design elements are/were a problem, and frankly (although I’m not) Darell , I think the problem is minor, and “I don’t give a damn” (think Rhett, in GWTW)… delay is just delay, unless you are an emergency vehicle person/transportee…

          Folk should just deal with it… said as someone who does not frequently use those corridors. Disclosure. Transparent…

          But I’d not reverse the shorter ped/bike travel exposures, nor the reduction in conflict points… those are very good elements to what has transpired…

          Safety, alternate modes of travel vs. delay?… delay sounds ok…


        2. Ron Oertel

          ” . . . . as to I-80, yeah, use that, but choose off-peak hours…”

          I’d suggest sometime between 1:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m.  As long as they’re not doing road construction/repairs at that hour.

          Have to watch out for the crazies at that time, though!

        3. Ron Oertel

          By the way, is that time frame considered “late”, or “early” – depending upon whether or not one goes to bed prior to that time?  😉

          It’s truly a conundrum.

        4. Darell Dickey

          @ Bill… I totally meant it as non-individual, and certain ly not directed at any design or engineering role that you may have played!  These things get tough in forum discussions!

          We are the problem. Reminds me of people wanting *somebody* to lower the price of gas because their Escalade uses do dang much of it.

  2. Darell Dickey

    >> Another person said, “We’ve all recommended as citizens of south Davis to turn it back to the way it was.” <<

    No we *all* didn’t. I take exception to anybody who pretends to speak for me. And it appears that the “citizens of south Davis” who are represented by this comment don’t all live in Davis. South or otherwise.

    >> “I have spoken with the people at the fire department, they cannot get out of their fire stations, get to your neighborhood. <<

    And yet the acting fire chief has publicly stated that there is no issue for the department’s emergency response. The FD clearly CAN get out of the fire station and CAN get to the neighborhoods that they serve. If anybody is troubled by all this traffic, the best course of action is to not be part of the problem. But it seems as if most of the angry mob would like *other* folks to stop being the problem.

    >> A city official said that they counted 105 kids riding their bikes to school in one hour through the intersection of Mace and Cowell. <<

    This comment was boo’d. I mean seriously boo’d. The same way that just about any comment that didn’t include “put everything back to the way it was” was boo’d. The disrespect and ignorance was not surprising, but was still quite troubling.

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