California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced the recipients of its Transit and Intercity Capital Program (TIRCP) grants. Sacramento benefits from two projects: $9M to Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority for expanded service to Roseville and related rail improvements $30M to Sacramento Regional Transit District for a new streetcar These grants of course are only a […]

I live within the influence/taxation zone for the proposed Sacramento Streetcar, Sacramento Measure B, so I received a voter information pamphlet, and presumably will receive a ballot within a few days. Let me say right up front that I am voting yes. I support the streetcar for its economic and transportation benefits. However, I’d like to address some of the anti arguments.

YesOnB

No on Measure B

The pro side is well represented at http://gosacstreetcar.com, and the other websites linked from there. I have not found a website for the anti side, but their arguments are in the information packet and on the sign above.

Here are the anti arguments, from the pamphlet, with my comments in green:

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K Street pedestrian plaza between 11th and 12th

K Street pedestrian plaza between 11th and 12th

Today I walked the route of the proposed Sacramento Riverfront Streetcar. No, this is not part of the argument about whether pedestrians or streetcars are faster, going around the Internet recently, but I just wanted to see it all from a walking viewpoint, not on my bicycle. There is a map of the probable route on the website above, though oddly it leaves out some streets.

I picked up the route at L and 16th, just two blocks from my home, and headed west between Capitol Park and the brutalist Community Center Theater. The route turns north on 13th Street and apparently goes through the pedestrian plaza over to 12th where is would then use the SacRT light rail tracks (light rail would be routed to the north along H Street). The further west on K Street, the more depressing things are, with most buildings not only empty but abandoned. But, this is part of the reason for the streetcar, to support the economic redevelopment of this area. At 6th it heads north along the existing light rail tracks to H, and then west to Sacramento Valley Station (Amtrak).

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The list of transit projects put out by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget includes $75,000,000 in Small Starts funding for the Sacramento Downtown Riverfront Streetcar. The FTA Project Profile is available with some detail that may be of interest.

Several Sacramento area people have referenced the article “12 Strategies That Will Transform Your City’s Downtown” on the UrbanScale blog by John Karras. I’d like to look a little more closely at some of the strategies. If you have information or thoughts about any of these, please contribute.

#1 Turn one-way streets into two-way streets. Sacramento, and specifically downtown/midtown, has most of the one-way streets in the region. The city does have a policy to convert some of these streets, but the effort stalled, and no one seems to know why or be willing to admit why. Several streets have been resurfaced recently without being converted, though this would be the perfect time to do it. These include H, I, 9th, and 10th. There are some costs to conversion, turning signals around or installing new signals in some cases, the the reward in walkability and retail success is worth it. The post says “One-way streets are great if your only goal is to channel traffic through your downtown, but they are bad for pedestrian activity and retail opportunities.  Two-way streets create a more comfortable pedestrian environment and have been shown to increase property values.” J Street in Sacramento is a classic example of how one-way streets reduce retail business. All those thousands of cars streaming by the most dense retail street in the region, and only small bubbles of successful retail to show for it. I’m glad Karras has this one on the top, because it is one of my strongest desires, with many blog posts: Two-waying streets in SFNew bike lanes, diets and sharrows downtownstreet changesmore on conversion to two-way streets, and Choosing streets to walk.

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Steve Cohn, Christopher Cabaldon, Steve Hansen, and other streetcar supporters

Steve Cohn, Christopher Cabaldon, Steve Hansen, and other streetcar supporters

The Downtown/Riverfront Streetcar is moving forward. Today there was a demonstration of a Siemens S70 streetcar (made in Sacramento, but unfortunately on its way to Atlanta) at the Township 9 (Richards & 7th St) SacRT light rail station. Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (West Sacramento), Councilmember Steve Cohn (Sacramento) and several others spoke about the future of the streetcar linking West Sacramento and downtown/midtown Sacramento. After the speeches, there was a ride downtown and back so people could see the streetcar in action, and informally discuss the project on the way.

Siemens S70 streetcar at Township 9 station

Siemens S70 streetcar at Township 9 station

Yesterday the SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) board allocated $5M in funding for phase 1 of the project, which is the initial planning, route selection, and environmental review of the system. SACOG is one of the project partners, along with the City of Sacramento, the City of West Sacramento, Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT), and Yolo County Transit (Yolobus). The remainder of the project costs totaling $12.3M are being provided by the partners. (Details of the SACOG application are at the bottom.)

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Reconnecting America, a transportation advocacy organization, just published Transit Space Race 2013. To see the Sacramento area projects, click on the < 3 million tab, and then sort by state. The eleven projects will be at the top of the list. The transit agency link in the right-most column links back to a page or […]