Freeport Boulevard Transportation Plan Emerging Design Concepts

City of Sacramento staff (Drew Hart) presented to the Sacramento Active Transportation Commission last Thursday on the Freeport Boulevard Emerging Design Concepts. The presentation slides are here. The city’s Freeport webpage has a lot of background material. A link to the virtual open house on April 28 (tomorrow!) is available. This project and the Northgate project are being supported by the same consultant, so you will notice similarities in the process and graphics.

The northern section, between Sutterville Road to the east and Sutterville Road to the west, should look exactly like the traffic-calmed, complete street to the north. This project on Freeport was successful. There is no reason for five lanes in this section. One lane northbound, one lane southbound, and one left turn lane southbound is all it needs. If traffic backs up at the Freeport and Sutterville Road to the east intersection, then shorten the signal cycle.

The emerging design document skips over the issue of whether four general purpose lanes are even needed. A concept should be presented that reduces general purpose lanes to two, and reallocates roadway width to other modes.

Dedicated right hand turn lanes should be removed everywhere. Dedicated left hand turn lanes should be provided only where traffic studies have shown a clear need, and should never reduce the roadway width for other uses.

Green lanes are shown behind protection for separated bikeways. Since the protection does or should prevent vehicle incursion, the paint is not needed.

Dedicated transit lanes should be considered. Though SacRT has not identified this as a high frequency route in the High Capacity Bus Service Study (Route 62 is 30-minute frequency), reconstruction of the roadway must consider the possibility of dedicated transit lanes and transit supporting infrastructure. Appendix A, available on the project webpage, provides a lot of detail about existing transit stops, which are mostly quite poor.

Some businesses along Freeport have multiple driveways, more than are justified by the amount of vehicle traffic access. Closure and narrowing of driveways should be considered. Since almost every business has parking fronting the street, no on-street parking is needed anywhere. This is poor urban design, but it is the nature of the corridor and could not be corrected without wholesale reconstruction of the corridor.

While separated bikeways are often a good solution, the frequency of driveways might make for poor quality infrastructure. Unless driveways can be closed or reconfigured, separated bikeways may not be the best solution.

Posted speed AND design speed should be considered for reduction. Posted speed is 30 mph from Sutterville Rd (to the east) to Arica Way, 35 mph from Arica Way to Fruitridge Rd, and 40 mph from Fruitridge Rd to Blair Ave. The section from Sutterville Rd (to the east) to Fruitridge Rd should be posted and designed for 25 mph, in recognition of the density of businesses and driveways. The section from Fruitridge to Blair Ave should be posted and designed for 30 mph, as it has a lower density of businesses and driveways, and is adjacent to the airport for a significant distance.

Prioritization of the modes for Sutterville (to the east) and Fruitridge Rd should be:

  • walking
  • bicycling
  • transit
  • motor vehicle

Prioritization of the modes for Fruitridge Rd to Blair Ave should be:

  • bicycling
  • transit
  • walking
  • motor vehicle

Crash/collision map of the Northgate Blvd corridor for pedestrians (walkers) and bicyclists. Data is from SWITRS for the years 2015-2019. (pdf)

map of Freeport Blvd Emphasis with pedestrian and bicyclist crashes

removal of crosswalks

In today’s SacBee, an article on the City of Sacramento’s removal of crosswalks (Why Sacramento erased 23 crosswalks, including one where a grandmother died after removal), which has contributed to at least one fatality, had the following information from Ryan Moore, the City Traffic Engineer.

“To send the message via crosswalk that this is a good place to cross the road is a false message,” Moore said of the Oregon Drive intersection. “Our standards dictated that we remove the crosswalk or build safety enhancements.” The city would have kept the crosswalk marking in place, he said, if it would have been able to install a traffic light there. But the money – in the $500,00 plus range wasn’t available. Instead, traffic engineers hope that by removing some crosswalks, pedestrians will instinctively choose to cross at a safer, nearby intersection, Moore said.

This is definitely the engineer perspective that says lives don’t matter as long as policy was being followed, and the windshield perspective that it is OK to make pedestrians walk out of their way so long as drivers are not inconvenienced.

Freeport-Oregon.pngAs you can see to the right, at the intersection of Freeport and Oregon, there are residences to the west and businesses to the right. There are signalized crosswalks about 700 feet to the north and about 700 feet to the south, but walking to either of these adds a one-quarter mile walk. Is this reasonable or not? It could be argued either way, but to discount it as Mr. Moore did demonstrates bias against pedestrians. The Google Map photo is from before the removal of the crosswalk.

The suggestion that nearby intersections are safer is also questionable. At the intersections of arterial roads, which Freeport and Fruitridge to the south are, drivers routinely fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk on right turns. That is in fact why many walkers prefer to cross away from major intersections.

Common estimates of the expense of a HAWK signal (High-intensity Activated crossWalK) are $100,000, not $500,000. $500,000 is the cost of a fully signalized intersection. So Mr. Moore’s $500,000 number is a straw man meant to deflect criticism by saying the solution is more expensive than it really is.

There are solutions to this particular problem, and to the removal of crosswalks in general:

  1. The city should be required to perform a complete traffic study before removing any crosswalk. The city is always saying that they have to do traffic studies before anything can be done to change traffic flow, so I would presume that doing a traffic study in this situation would be a no-brainer.
  2. If the traffic study indicates that the crosswalk is unsafe, then the next step is to design a solution or options, with a funding estimate, and then go to city council with a request for the funding.
  3. The city council would have to hold a hearing, either as part of the regular city council meeting or as a separate meeting, to gather public input on the removal. If the city council then makes a decision not to expend the funds to create a safe crossing, the crosswalk can be removed.
  4. If a crosswalk is removed, the city would be required to post informational signing at that location with distances to the nearest safe crossing in both directions, so that pedestrians can make informed decisions. The signing would have to stay in place for at least two years.

Anything short of these actions makes the city engineers both morally and legally responsible for any fatalities or severe injuries that occur at the site of a removed crosswalk.

 

Freeport Blvd bike lane project

Freeport Blvd bike lanes project

Tomorrow night (Nov. 8) at 6 PM the Sacramento City Council meets to vote to adopt a plan for the Freeport Blvd. Bike Lane project.

City staff propose replacing 4 substandard-width traffic lanes on Freeport Blvd. between 4th Ave and Sutterville Rd with 5 lanes: 2 standard-width traffic lanes and a center turn lane for motor vehicles and bike lanes in both directions (Segment Design Concept 2 on the website below). Staff also proposes bike-friendly modifications to the intersection at Freeport and 4th Ave, in front of Taylor’s Market (Intersection Design Concept 2).

The segment improvements are exactly what bicyclists need for safety, and while the intersection improvement isn’t the best one (see #4), it’s affordable and workable.This is a good plan and it looks likely a council majority is prepared to approve it.We need **100** bicyclists to attend this meeting to show the council that our community supports these kinds of essential safety improvements. If you ride on Freeport or care about the safety of someone who does, please join us and please share this invitation with others!

Questions? Contact SABA at jim@sacbike.org or 916-444-6600.