By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – The process began back in 2019 and was slowed and delayed by COVID, but next week, the council will be asked to approve the redesign concepts of Mace Blvd from Cowell to Montgomery and give direction to move forward with the new design.
The council would be asked to authorize another $500,000. “If approved, this amendment would bring the total amount of the redesign efforts to a potential of $854,280,” staff writes. “The current adjusted budget for fiscal year 21/22 includes funding in the amount of $1,131,100, of which $934,000 is unencumbered and available, which is sufficient to support the recommendation.”
However, “Additional funding to support construction efforts will be determined following Council action tonight and will be requested when we have an engineering cost estimate for the improvements.”
In 2016, the City completed the Mace Blvd Improvements project “with the intent to create a safer traveling environment for motor vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.” There were concerns at that time, that existing conditions on Mace Blvd, and at the intersection of Mace Blvd/Cowell Blvd, created significant barriers to increased walking and bicycling.”
However, the road redesign which led to a reduction of vehicle travel lanes combined with increased cut-through traffic due to directional apps and freeway congestion led to traffic backups on Mace during peak hours, especially on Thursdays and Fridays.
The council agreed in April 2019, “to revisit the corridor with a new consultant and come up with a revised design that was better than the “before project” condition and an improvement on the current design.”
In January, another community meeting was held where design concepts were laid out.
They are looking to:
- Reduce the delay for residents along the corridor
- Accommodate people riding bicycles of all ages and abilities
- Discourage rerouting of freeway traffic with navigation applications
- Accommodate emergency response and farm vehicles
To do that they will add two north and southbound traffic lanes between Cowell and North El Macero Drive. They will have a one-way, protected bike lane and will modify the median for the benefit of both public safety and farm vehicles.
This includes reducing the width of the median and adding some additional landscaping.
They will also make modifications to the striping between San Marino and North El Macero “to accommodate two northbound travel lanes along the full length of the roadway while maintaining the bike buffers.”
They will also make “modifications to the protected intersection at Cowell/Mace, including accommodation for truck-turning radii and modifications to the signal timing and operations.”
As a second phase, they will install a pilot project metering traffic light simulation at Tremont and Mace and 30 days later at Montgomery and Mace.
According to them, “City will pay the costs. City and county will each independently determine whether or not to commit to a permanent project based upon factors such as traffic improvement, impact of the signal on residents and businesses and any unintended consequences.”
“For the Mace corridor, the integration of a signal to meter the flow of vehicles before they enter the corridor is crucial to eliminating cut-through traffic trying to skirt I-80,” Mike Webb explained. “The traffic modeling suggests metering is key. The current plans integrate pilot metering signals at two locations, Tremont and Montgomery, so we can test this in the real world before investing in a full permanent signal.”
Finally, they will add two northbound lanes from Redbud to San Marino, after the determination of a successful traffic light pilot.
The cost for all of this could top $4.5 million.
How much of the traffic concerns this redesign will actually solve remains to be seen.
Mike Webb pointed out in January, “Traffic congestion is a much bigger picture transportation system issue, far broader than Mace. Ultimately it requires a fix to I-80.”
During the summer, it was announced that the United States Department of Transportation has awarded an $85.9 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant to the Yolo County Transportation District and the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) District 3 application to improve and expand 17 miles of the Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50 corridors in Yolo and Sacramento Counties.
That will allow for freeway expansion and the addition of an HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane that policeymakers hope will alleviate some of the freeway congestion.
Webb said, “Thankfully the recent INFRA grant award will allow Caltrans to address this.”
He added, “We greatly appreciate the community’s patience as we have worked through these design updates. We appreciate the feedback from stakeholders and will be reviewing that for possible further adjustments before we bring our recommendations to the BTSSC [Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission] and then City Council. We look forward to continuing forward progress.”
“I think the proposed suite of adjustments will be positive overall,” Vice Mayor Frerichs said. “As I mentioned at the workshop the other night, context also matters—it is important to keep in mind that the peak hour impacts on Mace is one symptom of the larger issues with I-80, which is why I’ve also been focused/working on regional improvements to the entire 80 corridor through Davis and Yolo County.”