wide lanes on Freeport

Another post to criticize the City of Sacramento’s Freeport Blvd Transportation Plan. See Freeport Blvd category for earlier posts.

The city has designed Freeport with four lanes, each 11-feet wide. NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) and FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) recommends 10-foot lanes for urban areas. The city says 11-feet is necessary for buses and commercial vehicles, and insists on that width in all designs for arterials and collector streets (otherwise known as stroads), or which Freeport is one.

The diagram below, from the plan document, shows the 11-foot lanes. Even if one assumes that the outside lane (called number 2 lane in engineering parlance) needs 11 feet to handle buses and commercial vehicles, the inside lane (called number 1) does not need to be any more than 10 feet, and in fact could probably be 9 feet. The widest common vehicles are 6.5 feet wide, and most 6 feet, so 9-10 feet is plenty. The city is wasting two to four feet of roadway width on extra-wide lanes. That wasted width could instead be used for sidewalks and trees shading sidewalks.

The center median is 20 feet wide, for unknown reasons. Maybe to accommodate left hand turn lanes, perhaps pedestrian refuge medians, or trees. Trees certainly need 8 plus feet, but not 20 feet. But even an 11-foot lane plus 6 feet for a refuge median is only 17 feet, but the city has designed 20 feet. Maybe to accommodate the double left hand turn lanes southbound at Fruitridge Rd? Double left hand turn lanes have no place in an urban setting like Freeport, they just increase the crosswalk distance and engender greater hazards for everyone, including drivers. It is almost as though the city is trying to waste roadways width.

Note that the sidewalks would be as narrow as 5 feet in some locations, and never wider than 9 feet or 11 feet. Note that there are no trees adjacent to the sidewalk. The next post will be about trees.

The city’s blockheaded insistence on 11-foot lanes means that they have designed a roadway which will encourage higher speeds, which are hazardous to everyone, walkers, bicyclists, and drivers. Why? Because the city’s primary design criteria is to maintain vehicle volume (VMT) and speed. This is not what the community wants, as is made clear in the workshops and surveys the city did. The city ignored community input because it did not match their preconceived notions about what kind of roadway they wanted.

Author: Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

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