Saturday, October 30, 2010

Design Concept for K Street Traffic

This Tuesday the 2nd  Thursday November 4th, Sacramento City Council will approve a Preliminary Design Concept with DKS Associates for final design for Vehicular Traffic Options on the K Street Mall in an amount of $238,873 and extend the time for completion to October 31, 2011. The objective of reintroducing vehicular traffic to K Street is to revitalize the area and improve circulation.

It’s the City staff's recommendation to approve the project and environmental document, the preliminary design concept, and Supplemental Agreement No. 2 with DKS Associates in an amount not to exceed $238,873 to prepare final plans. Should Council approve these actions, an invitation to bid and will return to Council in Spring 2011 for approval of the construction contract. Cars may return to K Street as early as Fall 2011.

History: K Street was once the bustling core of downtown, but since cars were removed in the late 1960s, the vibrancy has diminished. Recently, however, there have been successes on K Street and the City of Sacramento is interested in building on those successes and recreating K Street as a vibrant part of downtown.Vehicular traffic has been cited as one technique that can generate additional economic development and change perceptions of the corridor. The project purpose is to increase access and visibility to businesses, promote a safe environment, stimulate additional economic activity, and improve circulation.

In 2009, the City and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership commissioned a Downtown Activation Strategy from Downtown Works, a leading retail consultant. The report explains that in the late 1960s Sacramento made a similar mistake that numerous other cities across the United States made in the 1960s through 1980s by closing off streets to vehicular traffic and creating pedestrian malls. The intent was to replicate the feeling of the suburban mall which at the time was becoming increasingly popular. This strategy actually had the opposite impact and decimated retail in numerous downtowns, including K Street in Sacramento. The removal of vehicular traffic disrupted the Downtown grid and eliminated traffic which is critical to the success of retail.

On April 22, 2010, City Council approved an approximately $2.7M budget for the K Street Mall Traffic Study and its implementation. It also authorized a supplemental agreement with DKS to prepare preliminary plans. Council Supplemental Agreement


late nite said...

My main concern with cars on k is the challenges it presents to cyclists.

This design looks like it forces cyclists to ride really close and parallel to the to the tracks. It would be pretty easy to get a wheel into the track and crash--hopefully not with a car right behind the rider.

Maybe it would be best for cyclists to ride in the 5-foot buffer (Really 3 feet, since riding on truncated domes doesn't work well.)
Bicycle paths could be created by moving some of the planters around, but that's probably too expensive.
Do they really need 11-foot striped lanes? We want the cars at low speed, right? 10-foot lanes should be okay. Hmm, maybe the light rail vehicles use the whole 11-foot lane...

Too bad I missed the public meeting. Just felt like sharing some thoughts here.

Anonymous said...

I've got mixed feelings about this...should this plan be executed, I think it will only have a marginal impact at best, not worth the investment IMO.

I feel that the council should rethink the notion of K Street as a destination for suburbanites, and shift that idea towards a long-term goal.

What K Street needs is sustainability, and that comes with 1.) more jobs downtown and 2.) more housing in the downtown corridor.

Having a traffic jam of cars with confused out-of-towners, unaware pedestrians and clogged bike paths seems to create more problems in the sake of a modest increase in retail visibility and equally, marginal convenience improvements.

Regarding the latter, imagine this idea executed as planned: Car scenario 1: "honey, can you drop me off on K street?" "sorry, I'll be stuck on that street for way to long, and i always nearly run into pedestrians and bicyclists"
Bicyclist scenario: see above.

Get more people on K by making it easier for employers to relocate downtown = more 9 to 5 consumers. Then, build middle-class housing on both the street and surrounding blocks (J between 10th and 11th is ripe for residential development). Then - voila! - quality retailers appear, operating late into the night. And presto! - a downtown culture develops, and only then do you have a bored suburbanites will tire of their Dave & Busters and opt for a unique day/night out on the town...

wburg said...

Bikes are actually expected to share the same lane as cars and light rail, not the 5-foot zone between the edge of the vehicle zone and the edge of the truncated cones. Maximum speed for vehicles is 15 miles per hour.

J between 10th and 11th is currently entitled for residential--Saca's other residential tower at 10th, and another at 11th and J. All they are waiting for is the easy money and high housing prices of 2005.

In terms of jobs downtown, there are plenty of jobs downtown--something on the order of 100,000 or more, while only about 35,000 people live in the central city. Not that we couldn't use more, but housing downtown is the higher priority than job centers, at least in the short term.

That being said, there are some projects underway, and more that are about to get underway, including residential units. Many of the projects include players who are already an active part of downtown culture, and will help spread that role back to its source in downtown Sacramento, where it started in the first place.

And while you missed the public meeting, the meeting mentioned in this post is in the future--this coming week at City Council. So if you have comments, you can make those comments directly to the people who will make the decision regarding the project (the city council), in person or electronically.

late nite said...

Ah, thanks for pointing out the meeting this week. Not sure how I missed that!

I know the plan is for bikes to share the lane, but that will position riders riding between the two rails of the tracks, and if any lateral maneuvering is needed, it will be easy to get a wheel caught in the tracks and crash.

This shouldn't be a problem for experienced cyclist, but I think K Street should be comfortable for cyclists of all abilities.

wburg said...

Bicyclists currently ride on the tracks, at least they are supposed to (as in other parts of the city, they also ride on the sidewalk although it is generally prohibited.)

Kevin said...

Just FYI...the Council Meeting this week (because of the election) has been rescheduled to Thursday November 4th.

Anonymous said...

I believe that K Street needs parking, and not car traffic to attract the “right” crowd back. If you think about it there are two problems with K Street: a)"wrong" crowd and b) lack of "right" crowd.
First problem brings the second. However if we solve second problem we might eliminate the first one. (That is what apparently city council is trying to achieve by re-introducing auto traffic).
Thus, to help K Street we could decrease amount of the "wrong" crowd by re-routing light rail away from K Street and/or moving Greyhound bus station further away from the area. This proposal will cost too much money, so I will further discuss how the “right” crowd can be attracted to the retail locations on K Street.
Sending traffic through the street will cause congestion and delays for the light rail. It will invite young people ride along the street with no particular reason other than blasting music through their "woofers" and yelling out obscenities. People will never drive though the street to get to their destination because it will be congested. Further, drop off will be possible only for the carpoolers; single car occupants, like the majority of people, will have to park elsewhere and walk to the street. Thus the only way to attract people on the street is to provide them with a comfortable parking.
There is a vacant lot on the corner of K and 9th I believe, where a public parking garage could be erected. Of course patrons of retailers should get either discounted or free parking-same system as at the Downtown Plaza. Easily accessible parking will invite people back into the area, which in turn will attract more investments, cleaner street, and less of the "wrong" crowd.