Vague lanes solving regional pains?
July 06, 2021
On July 1st Davis Vanguard covered the announcement of Federal funding of 86 million dollars for the Yolo-80 Managed Lanes project.
I appreciate most the comments of Alan Miller, Alan Pryor and Richard McCann. I hope I can add something below.
The MTC area gets a lot of income from its bridges, and uses it for public transportation. Consider that Davis and SACOG-area drivers pay into this when driving south to San Jose, west to Oakland and San Francisco, and so on, but people from those areas make no similar contribution our region – really, the east side of the Northern California Megaregion – when traveling to Davis or Sac or of course towards Lake Tahoe.
Caltrans dropped the long-promised new bike-ped bridge across the Bypass, replaced by some improvements on the west side of the Bypass. Combined with new infrastructure such as separated lanes and a lot of shade trees in West Sac, the whole corridor could be optimized for faster e-bikes and provide a good alternative for many, especially in east and the east part of South Davis. But… nope! Or so it seems.
The graphics in the Caltrans presentation on the Yolo 80 Corridor planned for the BTSSC meeting this Thursday show only buses in the managed lanes, which is not what’s really planned for the managed lanes. Nasty! The managed lanes are mostly in added lanes, and if these lanes are available for private vehicles off-peak, for a premium, or free for a carpool then induced demand happens - see also Alan Pryor's comment in the Vanguard article - and we eventually lose.
It’s also not clear how this project interfaces with the 80-Richards project.
It’s not clear how much congestion there will be during the long construction period.
It’s not clear if any general re-paving will decrease noise (new technology makes this possible).
It’s probably unlikely that Caltrans will support a discount on Capitol Corridor during the construction period.
But yeah, rail. What’s up with the future Capitol Corridor improvements? How does this project related to our impending new General Plan? My favorite idea is to build a highway bypass south of town and then put the railway below grade so that it also no long splits the City in two (in retrospect, it would probably have been better to not build anything south of the 80-rail corridor). Anyway, all the new space roughly in the center of Davis could be the location of a lot of new dense, mixed-use development which could facilitate low-vehicle ownership or at least use, as it would eventually be convenient to UCD and Downtown by bike, to both Sacramento and especially the Railyards, and to points to the west by rail. It would also be much quieter in parts of the City with this sort of ring-road solution. In general terms it would complement my concept for building above 113 roughly between Russell and Covell. I've also proposed a noise-mitigation and solar-generation project for the I-80 corridor through Davis.
Related to this whole thing and that next to last point, over three years ago when I was on the BTSSC I initiated a sub-committee on 80 and related. It never went anywhere and was dissolved as the other Commissioner who joined it moved to Sacramento and no one else on the Commission wanted to pursue this... route. Sigh. Please demand that BTSSC members ask some hard questions this Thursday!
While there is nothing wrong with your lofty ideas as such, the cost of relocating highways and railways into new corridors is astronomical. This could be possible if Davis were the center of the universe for federal funding, but it is not. It has to compete for funding like everywhere else, some with much larger populations. Advocating for improved rail service is expensive enough, but within the realms of doable. You can challenge the highway expansion on its own issues. We don't have to go to relocating transportation corridors to achieve non-highway improvements.
Posted by: Alan Miller | July 06, 2021 at 12:20 PM
Thanks, Alan M.
Where would we be without "lofty" ideas? Caltrans and Yolo County should have first engaged with a much blanker slate, asking what we want from the highway, or even the whole corridor. We'd see the benefits (and not) of the bypass, the "sound bridge" (which generates energy) and all the other things. Instead they've only engaged the public enough to "check boxes" and they've changed major things without notice (seriously, bike bike bike City of Davis is a partner but this does little for bikes, and Staff did not go out of its way to tell the BTSSC or local bike actors about the deletion of the bike-ped bridge.)
Instead this is mainly just about human throughput, or vehicle throughput, or something in between. That's certainly a key criteria - absolutely no doubt - but what about noise? Moving faster might actually generation more vibration than now, except for vehicle revving regularly up the slope towards Old Davis Rd. and irregularly braking too much. Gas and particle emissions will slowly become less of a problem, depending on traffic levels. Electric cars still have noisy tires, and since SUV's are very popular many won't have a terribly happy aerodynamic co-efficient. What about other criteria?
Who is going to stand up to Caltrans? Does it have to be death, taxes and Caltrans?
Posted by: Todd Edelman | July 06, 2021 at 01:33 PM