SacCity ADA ramps and Central City Mobility

I now know why all the of initial ADA ramp projects were on 21st Street. That is the first street being repaved as part of the Central City Mobility Project. 21st has been identified in the project for separated bikeways. Since there is a bus route on 21st (SacRT Route 62), I assume that the bus stops will be on the right hand side northbound, and the bikeway on the left hand side. The design shown on the project webpage shows a parking-protected separated bikeway on the left, along with a buffer zone (to protect against car doors opening). This seems to be the standard that the city has adopted, and side so far the city is placing separated bikeways only on roadways that also have bus service, presumably this design will be used in every case.

Another diagram indicates that there will be vertical delineators (K-71) in the buffers, but there are no details about the frequency. There’s are the delineators that are run over and destroyed by vehicle drivers on a regular basis, and these will suffer the same fate. The larger diameter delineators (NOT bollards, the city is incorrect in calling vertical plastic a bollard; bollards are made of metal or concrete, not plastic) that are now installed on part of J Street are not specified here. Though these don’t provide any more actual physical protection, they seem to raise doubts among drivers and get run over less often.

diagram of separated bikeway

There were several curb islands along 21st Street on the left hand side. All but one have been removed. The remaining one at 21st Street and Capitol Ave may just be an oversight, but if not, it is in the middle of what is expected to be the separated bikeway.

21st St at Capitol Ave SW corner curb islands

The fourteen blocks of 21st Street from W Street to H Street has been stripped down about two inches, for repaving. The restriping after paving will include the separated bikeway.

The project webpage has a diagram for the transition of a separated bikeway on the left side of 19th Street southbound to the right side of 19th Street south of W Street, which is a two-way street. However, it does not have a diagram for the transition of this 21st Street separated bikeway at the north end, where 21st Street becomes a two-way street at I Street. This is already a hazardous intersection due to the double left-turn lane from 21st Street to I Street westbound.

Separated bikeways are only as safe as their intersection treatments, and the transition from and to separated bikeways to regular bike lanes are critically important. I hope that the city has a good design for 21St Street and H Street, otherwise bicyclists will be placed in more danger than existing conditions. The solution is of course bicycle signal faces that allow bicyclists to move when other traffic is held, but the city has been reluctant to use these.

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update on SacCity ADA ramps

Note: I discovered that I have often used ‘detectible’, but should have been using ‘dectectable’ for detectable warning strips.

This is an update to the update on work being done on corner ADA ramps in the Sacramento central city, apparently as part of the Central City Mobility Project.

So far as I have seen, curb extensions are not part of this project.

There are now a number of locations where the concrete ramp is being cut so that the detectable warning strip can be installed, but the curbs are not being touched. See below for an example.

Q-St & 16th-St, SW corner, ADA ramp construction
Q-St & 16th-St, SW corner, ADA ramp construction

One of the corners I have been monitoring, 21st St and O St northeast corner, is complete, but with temporary patches that make the ramps useable, though ironically still blocked by folding barricades and caution tape, which absolutely does not meet ADA guidelines for contruction signing and safety. This seems to be the pattern with the city, trying to make things better, but not paying attenteion to the details. I don’t know when the asphalt will be restored and the corner opened. Maybe the contractor is waiting until all the corners are ready before patching, though that would be stupid.

21st-St & O-St, NE corner, completed corner with ADA ramps
21st-St & O-St, NE corner, completed corner with ADA ramps

I am still not able to make sense of the asphalt cuts that are being done on the corners where the curb will be or has been modified. I’m guess that there was a standard cut design, implemented everywhere, no matter what the actual project.

Walking around the central city, it appear that most of the corners which did not have ADA-compliant ramps will have them when the project is done, but some may not. I don’t know what the criteria is for which corners are being done, and which are being done at a higher level of replacing the curbs and widening the ramps. Many of the existing ramps are narrow, with edging curbs, which was apparently the design at the time they were placed, but the new corners are a different design, with a sloping area between the two ramps, similar to the diagram below, from the 2020 Department of Utilities Standard Specifications: Transportation drawings, not from the 2009 Department of Public Works Street Design Standards, which contain no ADA diagrams. I think the detectable warning strip width is at least 60 inches on the new installations, which is an improvement. The 48 inch width does not allow two people to stand on the strip. Corners with new curb extensions seem to have 72 inch strips.

SacCity T-76 Curb Ramp Dual Combination Planter diagram

update on half-measure corners

There has been construction on several of the corners I had previously mentioned (half-measure corners?), with 21st Street and O Street being the most advanced. It seems that I was wrong about curb islands being put in – there is no evidence of such construction. I don’t know why the asphalt cutting implied that. When more of these are complete, I’ll post again.

What seems to be going on is simple updates to place ADA-compliant curb ramp with detectable warning strips. Of course any improvement to curb ramps helps everyone, disabled and otherwise, and I’m not criticizing that. Rather, wondering why when the city is changing these corners, they did not take the opportunity to do true curb extensions. The ADA ramp and detectable warning in place for O Street is wider, than previous ramps and strips, looks to be more than four feet rather than the prior narrow ones. If all the ramps end up wider, that will be a plus.

This work is probably part of the city’s Central City Mobility Project. The project detail mentions ‘turn wedges’. Maybe the wedges will be added later, or maybe these will be at different locations than the ones I’ve looked at. The page does not specifically mention ADA ramp improvements.

21st St & O St, northeast corner, ADA ramp construction, partially complete
21st St & O St, northeast corner, ADA ramp construction, partially complete

I had mentioned in the previous post curb extensions being extended to serve as bus boarding areas. I am not aware of any of these in Sacramento, but San Francisco has many. Many earlier posts have mentioned bus boarding islands, but this is for a street without bike lanes (yet), which allows the bus to stop in-lane and people to board directly. Notice that the extension allows for a bus shelter without constraining the sidewalk width for walkers. This should be the standard for Sacramento for all streets with bus routes but not bike lanes.

curb extension and bus boarding extension, San Francisco, Leavenworth & Sutter
curb extension and bus boarding extension, San Francisco, Leavenworth & Sutter

half-measure corners?

Summary: The city should not install curb islands at corners, as it is currently doing, but rather install much safer and more effective true curb extensions, even if fewer can be installed now. Temporary installations can be used at other corners.

The City of Sacramento is currently re-doing a number of intersection corners in midtown. Most of these corners are along 21st Street, so far as I’ve noticed, but some are on other streets, and there well may be other locations I’ve not noticed yet. Last week crews were out saw cutting asphalt at corners, in preparation for new concrete work. The existing corner concrete and ramps have been removed from at least two corners, and at the 21St Street and O Street corner there is form work for whatever is going to replace the old corners.

The first photo is of the saw cuts at P Street & 19th Street. The cuts don’t really stand out, but they do indicate the areas that will be changed.

19th St & P St, SW corner, asphalt cuts for corners changes
19th St & P St, SW corner, asphalt cuts for corners changes

It appears from the saw cuts that what is going to be constructed is something similar to the existing northwest and northeast corners. Northwest is shown below. I am not sure what to call these. They are not in the city’s street design standards, and almost the only place where I’ve seen them is Sacramento. I looked at several other cities to see if these were in their street designs, and they were not. So, just to call them something, I’m going to call them ‘curb islands’. The City of Los Angeles calls these floating curb extensions, but apparently their intended use is with bike lanes, not with gutters.

19th St & P St, northwest corner, corner islands
19th St & P St, northwest corner, corner islands
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does Sacramento enforce illegal parking?

As a person who walks a lot in the central city, and some in other areas, I often see and report illegal parking to the city through the 311 app. I’m not talking about parking too long, or not paying, but about blocking driveways, sidewalks, and crosswalks. 90% of the time, the response that I get was that a parking officer was dispatched and the vehicle was no longer there, so no citation was issued. I provide the license number, vehicle description, and a photo, but the city will not use that information to ticket once a vehicle has moved. But, the real issue it that they often ignore the violation completely.

An example. I reported this illegally parked vehicle at 9:17AM. It was blocking the crosswalk over 13th St, and the ADA ramp. The remaining ramp area was not wide enough to allow a wheelchair to pass. At 11:09AM I received an email reply from the city, stating: “A Parking Enforcement Officer arrived at P ST & 13TH ST, SACRAMENTO, 95814 to find that the vehicle(s) reported were no longer on the scene.” At 7:30PM, the vehicle was still in exactly the same place. The officer was lying. The vehicle was still there. Either the officer never visited the location, or decided not to cite the vehicle.

illegally parking vehicle blocking crosswalk and ADA ramp
illegally parked vehicle, 13th St, not cited

This is the sort of attitude the city has toward people who walk, or roll. They are always less important than people who drive.

Sacramento disdains walkers

The City of Sacramento, both the city government and many people who live here, have a picture of a pretty good place to live, and work, and play. And that is true, to some degree. Good climate (except middle of summer), a wealth of trees, interesting and useful businesses (at least in midtown), mostly flat (for bicyclists), two rivers and the confluence, moderately friendly people. But the transportation network sucks.

Heavy rain of course brings out the flaws in the transportation system. Flooded roadways that at the least make it hard to get places, and at worst kill people. Trees and tree debris blocking both sidewalks and bike lanes. Light rail that runs late or not at all, buses behind schedule. All of those are important issues. But this post is about flooded ADA ramps.

flooded ADA ramp, Q St at 13th St
flooded ADA ramp, Q St at 13th St

The above photo is a mild case, as it does not make the ADA ramp and connecting sidewalks impassible. It just means wet feet for people who can’t jump the puddle, or wet wheels for people with mobility devices. You might think that this is a problem created by the storms. But look closer. The ADA ramp was built so that it is LOWER than the drain inlet. This puddle will remain until it evaporates, and if the rain continues, it will be there for quite some while. There are two explanations, and I don’t know which is correct. 1) The ramp and drain inlet was designed by an incompetent engineer; or 2) ramp and drain inlet were not built as designed, meaning that the construction inspector did not notice or did not care that it was not installed as designed. In either case, it is the fault of the city.

You might think that this is an unusual circumstance, but if you walk and notice, about half the ADA ramps in the city have this same problem. Why is this so common? Because the city doesn’t care. The engineer doesn’t care, or the inspector doesn’t care. Every one of these situations expresses the city’s disdain for walkers, and users of mobility devices.

I started with a mild example, but to present a much worse example:

flooded ADA ramp and sidewalk, 3rd St at O St
flooded ADA ramp and sidewalk, 3rd St at O St

This puddle won’t disappear for at least a week, even without additional rain. This is not a problem of a plugged drain inlet. The ramp and sidewalk was designed to be BELOW the gutter level along the street.

I have reported this location multiple times to the city, over the years. It has never been fixed. When I submit a 311 report, it is marked as complete without anything being done. Which is not untypical for the city, most of my 311 reports are ignored, marked as complete without anything being done.

Does this bother you? Get in touch with your city council member, provide photos and stories about how this impacts you and the people you know. Ask council members to hold city staff responsible for their incompetence and lack of care. If the city manager can’t fix these problems, it is time for a new city manager. If Public Works can’t fix this problem, it is time for a new head of Public Works. Anything else is not acceptable.