By Bret Stevens and Francois Kaeppelin
The Reimagine Russell project has the potential to link thousands of neighborhood members to quick and sustainable bus transit by immediately connecting the West Village development to Russell Boulevard via a transit-only road.
Within the last decade, West Village has become the West Coast’s largest single addition of student housing and hosts significant educational facilities. This new development has a population of approximately 3,300 students and is home to some of the world’s leading transportation research institutes.
However, due to opposition by nearby residents, the original builders designed West Village with a single road to Russell Boulevard, blocked off from all traffic. However, it is apparent that this was a grave mistake since the various extensions of student housing available on the West Village campus have meant that students must drive their cars or take multiple bus trips to buy groceries from their local supermarket.
Currently, if someone wants to ride a Unitrans bus from West Village to Trader Joe’s, they must take a 25-minute route and two buses to the nearest retail mall, which is less than a half-mile away.
The goal of Reimagine Russell is to promote cohesion for all modes of transportation along Russell Boulevard. Facilitating and promoting the use of public transit for the thousands of residents of West Village should be one of the highest, if not the top, priority. If public transit is not convenient for students to take they will simply drive – leading to more traffic on both Russell and La Rue.
Additionally, a road route connecting West Village to West Davis has the opportunity to noticeably reduce service times of emergency vehicle calls since they would have access to a road route directly connecting West Village and West Davis.
It should be commendable that UC Davis is following through on its commitments to build large additional amounts of housing on campus. Let’s take the next step and connect those residences to one of the best public transit services for any midsize suburban community.
Bret Stevens is a UC Davis PhD candidate in Agricultural & Resource Economics and a board member of Sustainable Growth Yolo
Francois Kaeppelin is UC Davis Graduate student in Transportation Technology & Policy and former member of Davis’s BTSSC