Council Goes with Compromise on Mace – Back to Two Lanes, Keeps Protected Bike Path

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Adrian Engel presents to council

Nearly two dozen people spoke during public comment – there were fireworks on both sides of the issue, but this time the public was relatively split.  Council, as they have for years now, found the compromise – Alternative 10, the alternative that adds a signal at Montgomery, adds two northbound lanes north of El Macero, but preserves the bike path.

Adrian Engel from Fehr & Peers pointed out “some of the congestion can be mitigated with the solutions that we have, but all of it will not be mitigated.”  The key is there will be “freeway congestion that causes queuing onto the corridor.”

He explained that he and his team got onto the freeway during peak time to validate that the freeway was not the fastest way to get from Dixon to the Causeway.  Five of them traveled at the same time through different routes to see if the apps and maps and Waze “were telling us the true story.”

Traveling on the freeway was indeed the longest time.  Some of the other routes “were definitely faster than the freeway.”  The fastest they found was Highway 113 and County Road 29 to bypass the queue.  They found that to be almost 15 minutes faster.

“There are multiple ways that can be used to bypass this freeway traffic,” he said.  “The software that’s giving you these alternate routes is true and we have verified are actually faster.  Ultimately the solution for this problem is going to fix I-80 and getting that traffic to flow better to keep cars on the freeway.  Because if you fix Mace or do something to Mace, it may just cause traffic to go in other places.”

Katie Rose presented a petition from over 27 families representing approximately 100 residents.

She read, “While this project is not perfect, we see it as a great improvement in making our community more walkable and bikeable.  We agree some modifications may be needed.  However, we want to send a clear message about the different alternatives considered.  Please do not pursue any alternative for moving the concrete divider protecting people on bicycles from vehicle traffic nor alternative detracting from the safety of our most vulnerable citizens, pedestrians and cycles in the Mace corridor…”

Supervisor Jim Provenza

Supervisor Jim Provenza expressed concerns on the part of the county.

He said, “The ability to be able to transport agricultural vehicles from one side of the freeway to the other is important to our county’s agriculture and our agricultural economy.”

He continued, “I believed that two lanes in both directions was a done deal and it seems as if we’re drifting away from that.”  He said, “I am concerned with an assumption that the current configuration is somehow necessary to deal with the Waze app problem… that was a pre-existing problem that got much worse with the Mace Construction and the current configuration.”

Finally Brandon Hurley spoke, “This all started with restoring Mace Blvd. and then we get the guy in the fancy suit and all this good stuff to fix the traffic on Mace Blvd.  It’s Waze – Waze is part of life.”

He added, “I think the bottom line that all of us would like is to have two lanes on either side of Mace Blvd. and a way to get the kids to and from school.”

Following the break, Mayor Brett Lee took his prerogative and spoke first, landing on Alternative 10 as his ideal choice, where he was joined by the rest of council.

“I’m struck by the fact that we have people asking us to delay,” the mayor said.  “I’m anxious so we can move forward and work on the fixes that we know we need to make.”

Previously, when this came to council before, “we had no objective information.  We had no traffic studies.  We had no traffic models.  We got it wrong before.

“We had this corridor that had much lower traffic volumes and in the past five years it has dramatically changed,” he pointed out.

Before, he said, prior to the traffic studies, “we’d just be winging it – and we’d risk making another error.”  He said, “We need to get this right.”  He said, “So the fact that we’ve taken the time to get this information – yes absolutely.”

He noted the interesting dynamic – less dramatic on this night than at previous outreach meetings.

“There’s this… tug of war between bikes and cars,” he said.  “It misses the point.”

He said that the bike advocates are saying don’t change it, “all the traffic is about Waze and Interstate 80 and you can’t do anything about that.”  On the other hand, “Just tear it all out and make it go back to the way it was.”

A school child talks about his experience

He notes that the chart above shows that the “prior design did allow for a greater volume of traffic flow with reduced amount of delay compared to the current situation.

“Alternative 6 does show an improvement,” he said.  “It’s not all about Waze.”

But he notes, Alternative 10 “is actually an improvement over the way it was.

“We have enough information to direct staff to pursue some alternative,” he said.

“There doesn’t have to be this rip it out, go back to where we were without protected bike lanes,” he said.  “I think we can do much more than protected bike lanes – we can make the bike infrastructure more sensible, easier to understand.”

Mayor Lee pushed his colleagues toward Alternative 10 – and his colleagues would ultimately agree.

Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida explained that Alternative 6 “does save time, but it only saves two minutes.

“I went out there on a busy day and I drove both sides,” she explained.  She noted that the north side of Mace “is a mirror image of what it used to be.”  There are four lanes and free right turns.

“There was about a three minute difference,” she said.  “I sat in traffic on both sides of that.”

She said, “Traffic is just as backed up… on the north side.”

The council ultimately voted 5-0 to support Alternative 10.  They will implement 30 percent of it and then have a public meeting to evaluate it.

—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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30 thoughts on “Council Goes with Compromise on Mace – Back to Two Lanes, Keeps Protected Bike Path”

  1. Ron Oertel

    She said, “Traffic is just as backed up… on the north side.”

    Gee, isn’t there a proposal that includes another 4,340 parking spaces on “that” side?

      1. Ron Oertel

        Irrelevant, unless you naively believe that conditions on roads and freeways will “improve” over that period of time. History would not support that belief.

        Also, construction traffic would have an impact.

        1. Ron Oertel

          As others have pointed out, road improvements are always one-step behind development, throughout a region.  Growth and development throughout the region itself will quickly overwhelm any improvements.

          In fact, road improvements facilitate development. That’s the reason that much of it occurs along freeways.

          That’s also the pattern throughout the country.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I remember San Jose on Highway 101 for years there was a bottleneck, they finally fixed it and it improved the roadway. So I don’t buy your premise. Roadways can be improved. There is a clear problem going from six to three lanes at UC Davis that needs to be fixed and it is causing most of the problems.

        2. Ron Oertel

          It’s not a premise – it’s an obvious fact.

          I remember San Jose on Highway 101 for years there was a bottleneck, they finally fixed it and it improved the roadway

          Leaving aside isolated examples based upon your personal experience, are you claiming that traffic has “improved” in the San Jose region, over the past few years/decades?

          The causeway itself will limit traffic, even if they add an HOV lane at some point.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Traffic has improved on that stretch due to changes in the roadway. Given the structural problem on I-80 at UC Davis, it seems reasonable to believe that a redesign can alleviate the byproduct of that bottle neck impacting Mace. Anyway – this is getting far afield and I have to go to court.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Again, the causeway itself limits traffic, even if an HOV lane is added. That is where a major bottleneck is occurring.

          Traffic will continue to increase on I-80 as a result of development throughout the region and beyond.

          It is interesting to see how you’re willing to “compromise” your stated concerns (whether it’s global warming from increased traffic, or discriminatory housing proposals) in support of development.

        4. Rik Keller

          Greenwald: Caltrans’ own data shows that the proposed improvements to the causeway would only keep things from getting as bad as they would without improvements. In one direction, instead of the ~200% increase in congestion, it would only be a ~100% increase.

        5. Alan Miller

          As others have pointed out, road improvements are always one-step behind development, throughout a region.  Growth and development throughout the region itself will quickly overwhelm any improvements.  In fact, road improvements facilitate development. That’s the reason that much of it occurs along freeways.

          DG, you are so flamingly incorrect on this, on R.O. is spot on.  This ‘improvement’ to I-80 is no solution.  Just as Fehr & Peers pointed out about improving Mace flow will only encourage more people to use that route and just encourages more cars on Mace from I-80, so ‘fixing’ I-80 will only make it more attractive to drive.  What California needs is a multi-tens-of-billion dollar improvement to it’s rail system.  Unfortunately, even the slight improvements in direction of our new governor are only tens-of-millions in funding increases that won’t make the sort of transformational differences to our infrastructure that are needed to allow Californians to use rail as a true alternative that is as convenient as driving for many trips.

          Until we embark on a program of tens-of-billions in improvements, we are doomed to the cycle of ‘build a few miles of freeway, and now we are only 20 years behind’.  Unfortunately, the only place we have invested even billions is a single line between Madera and Wasco that won’t be ready for many years and will only serve a limited population with marginal improvements — a very odd cost-benefit choice.  We live in an auto-fueled insanity, as anyone who has visited Europe or Japan can attest.

        6. Craig Ross

          Alan: If that’s the case, then it doesn’t really matter what we do on Mace, unless you’re proposal is to forever foreclose on growth in Davis because it will add to traffic.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            What I’m hearing: (A) The city doesn’t have money, (B) the voters are tired of new taxes, (C) housing is scarce and too expensive, (D) traffic is bad – granted we are not necessarily hearing all of these things from the same people, but it seems to me that there has to be tradeoffs on some of these contradictory points.

        7. Ron Oertel

          David:  What I’m hearing . . .

          What I’m hearing are comments from those who claim to be concerned about global warming, but who nevertheless support a 12,000 trip/day, 4,340-parking space development adjacent to freeway access points.

          And while they’re at it, they also support expanding the freeway system, to accommodate more development, traffic, and resulting greenhouse gasses.

          These happen to be the same individuals who claim to be concerned about housing costs, which rise as a result of “economic development” – as occurred in places like San Francisco (and which nevertheless have massive fiscal deficits).

          These are also the same people who willingly overlook discriminatory housing proposals, despite their stated social justice concerns. Which also include “social justice fundraisers” for their own political blogs, sponsored by some of these same developers.

      2. Rik Keller

        Oh, it’s a up to a 50-year buildout now? Because the demand for commercial space is so low I guess. Yet, you pushing the project because of what you describe as a present-day budget emergency. None of this adds up.

        Let me guess: you think the rents for the housing at ARC are going to be $500/month  too?

        1. Alan Miller

          I’m still waiting for someone to take me up on my bet:  you believe the rent is $500, you pay me the difference between $500 and the actual rent when first published.  Any takers?  If I lose I’ll bake you a possum.

  2. Alan Miller

    How do you not use that thumbnail of that kid speaking?  Great photo.  I usually get down on people using kids to make political points, because they execute it so poorly and just use their kids as a tool.  But this kid was just so cute, and the mom just had him make a quick statement that sounded real, not the kid speaking the adult’s words.  Although I was terrified he was going to topple off that swiveling chair – a plan she quickly abandoned (see CC video).

  3. Ron Glick

    I thought it was absurd that after cutting off the county supervisor who represents that area after two minutes the mayor  concluded his final remarks before voting by saying the county should help pay the costs of fixing what the city broke.

    When the city goes to the county, hat in hand, I hope they are granted a better reception and not limited to two minutes to make the case.

    1. Rik Keller

      Ron G: great point. Though I chafed against just being provided 2 minutes the last time I went to the Council, I’d be totally fine if a County Supe was given unequal treatment and provided more time!

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      I was kind of surprised that they didn’t give him five minutes or so. Past mayors have done things like that. Then again, it was fairly late.

  4. Alan Miller

    The council in my opinion did exactly the right thing.  The intention of the Mace re-design was good –>  the design and implementation was inexplicably horrific, and those responsible should be banned from ever designing anything more permanent than a sand-castle in the future.  Mace was wide as wide could be, with total room for any great design, and they turned it into a concrete emporium.  Will Arnold’s comments were hilarious, regarding someone having a good deal on rocks.  And Lucas was spot-on about the alternatives.  Alternative 10 is a wise path forward, along with jack-hammering out all that insane and ugly concrete.  Really, the people responsible for this should pay the million-plus this is gonna cost, then be de-licensed.  SHAME!

    And by the way, “They will implement 30 percent of it” is just incorrect.  “30%” is an engineering step, at which point input is gathered before finalization and construction.  It’s a poor term, but perpetuating the idea that 30% of it will be built is not helping.

    1. Darell Dickey

      I had no idea that there was such confusion about “30% design.” Did somebody have it confused on this thread? (Oh! I see it now in the final sentence of the article. Yeah… that needs to be removed or clarified, David. We don’t build a percentage of projects like that. We stop and discuss designs when they reach a certain percentage… WELL before implementation.)

      Before beginning, a design stands at 0%. At roughly 30% folks can get a general idea of the direction that the design is headed. There is a lot of time and room to go a different direction if needed. At 95% the design is done, and only the final details need to be worked out. At 100% the project starts to build (assuming that there is money, etc).

      1. Bill Marshall

        You pretty much nailed it, Darell… have heard of other %-ages, some which were important for certain “special” projects (more complex, more controversial… Mace does not rise to that level, IMO)… sometimes @ 50%… but you pretty much nailed it.

  5. Darell Dickey

    Did anybody get a sense last night that there was support for two SB lanes? There is not enough room south of Cowell to have two travel lanes AND a protected bike lane. The designer explicitly confirmed that last night. And of course it is clear by just looking at it. But then we had all the support for huge tractors and fire trucks, etc. Design 10 only talks about an extra NB lane, but there seems to be an assumption that we’ll also try for a second SB travel lane?

    It remains unclear to me.

  6. Rik Keller

    Mayor Brett Lee is quoted in the article as saying

    Previously, when this came to council before, “we had no objective information.  We had no traffic studies.  We had no traffic models.  We got it wrong before.

    “We had this corridor that had much lower traffic volumes and in the past five years it has dramatically changed,” he pointed out.

    Is this really true? The City proceeded with this massive project without adequate studies beforehand? Huh. It’s almost like citizens should get up in front of Council and advocate for discussion and vetting before the Council approves “routine” things on the consent calendar like project studies without discussion.

  7. Bill Marshall

    Alan’s 9:24 A post:

    What California needs is a multi-tens-of-billion dollar improvement to it’s (sic) rail system.

    We have to remember it is not the State rail system at present… private/corporate R/W facilities that the States rents/leases… it is what it is.

    I use AMTRAK  fairly frequently, particularly of late… they have to share the lines with the owners, who also carry freight etc., with other operators… most recently, I preferred taking AMTRAK to San Jose, with free parking, free transfers to other providers (in my case, VTA)… less stress, maybe more time (depending when one travels), and read, think, sleep, eat, etc. without using gas… and, on the Capitol Corridors you can bring your bike (as I have)…

    But folk who think the State can take over the existing R/W and infrastructure, improve it, to make it faster, with more stops (Dixon did a “Field of Dreams” thing)… are somewhat delusional… as to cost, who will pay, etc.   But incremental steps are good… it will still take negotiations, public money, fares, etc. to do that… no magic wand…

    I paid $70  to go to San Jose and back, with free parking (early train, Alan… before the Sacramentans got there) and free transfers on light rail/bus in San Jose (you do have to ask, preferably when the Amtrak conductor scans your ticket), but as far as direct/indirect costs, no stress, 2.5 hours of time each way was either a push or minor “cost”… felt like it was a good deal…

    Again… the tracks/RW belong to UP… the requirements for those are driven by freight, not Amtrak… although they have made subsidized improvements… new R/W for high speed trains, light rail, will be very expensive… good concept, but high price and long time to implement… I’m open to that discussion… and contributing…

    But those who expect faster transit time via rail, AND more stops, well…

    1. Alan Miller

      WM, nothing you say is wrong.  I know all of it.  It’s what I do for a living.

      There are transformational plans out there.  Some upgrading the private lines, some moving the freight to other lines, some digging long tunnels through hills or under the Bay.  The problem is, they cost billions, sometimes tense of billions.

      But check that against a few miles of freeway improvements.

      The problem is, the Capitol Corridor is maxed out without transformational changes, and those cost billions.  We have literally maxed out the contract for the number of trains UPRR will allow.  So without incredible investments to increase the capacity of the right-of-way and increase the speeds or shorten the route, not much is changing — so, do we make those changes, or play eternal catch-up with mind-numbing traffic jams?

      It seems some here are so against cars, yet are putting hope in some Caltrans plans to take out one bottleneck in the I-80 traffic abyss. What’s the point? If we are truly going to cut down on VMTs, we need a truly robust intercity rail system. We are not even close.

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