Thursday, September 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Detours ahead: City streets clogged with construction this summer

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From page A1 | June 21, 2013 |

Patience isn’t a virtue, it’s a requirement this summer for those who are accustomed to breezing through town by car.

It’s the season of road construction in Davis with more than a half-dozen projects on tap over the next few months, each proposed by the city to improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle safety and flow in and around the downtown. Flow, that is, once the roads have been built out.

Projects with a high public profile, such as the Fifth Street redesign, as well as those flying a bit more under the radar will be ongoing until early next year, so keep an eye out for those detour signs.

For future updates on all summer road construction projects, visit traffic.cityofdavis.org.

First Street pavement improvements: July-September 

The first project likely to get underway is the city’s plan to flatten out and repave First Street between A and G streets downtown.

According to public works staff, the road has deteriorated to a pavement condition index of anywhere from 30 to 49 out of 100, so to improve the corridor’s bikeability — as well as the quality of the pavement — crews will scrape away almost a foot of the surface and smooth out the road.

The project also will add a buffered westbound bike lane between B and D streets, ADA improvements to the street corners and improve the First and B streets T-intersection. The intersection will be reconfigured to improve and clarify the direction of the bike ramps that filter out onto the street from South Davis and by reducing the distance to cross First Street for pedestrians.

Construction is scheduled to begin July 8 and be completed in September. As for traffic impacts, crews will have to close down sections of First Street between 10:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. for grinding and re-pavement work, which will take place only between Thursdays and Sundays.

The city also will close off the Richards Boulevard tunnel leading into the downtown and reroute traffic to other entrances into the city over the course of the project at night. Residents who live in the vicinity of First Street also should expect noise and dust from the work at night, as trucks will have to remain on site to haul away discarded road material.

City staff expect occasional lane closures during the day, as well. Parking availability along the north side of First Street also could be affected. Road work hours during the day will last from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays only.

The project will cost a total of $647,000, mostly paid for through the city’s street maintenance and repair fund and its sidewalk, curb and gutter maintenance fund.

Fifth Street redesign: August-October

After what some would say was a decade of planning, the project — also known as the Fifth Street road diet — will strip away two travel lanes and add two bicycle lanes on Fifth Street between A and L streets. It will begin in August.

In addition to the lane reduction, the city also will add turn pockets, a dual left-turn lane and striped pedestrian crosswalks between A and L, all aimed to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and calm the flow of traffic through the center of town.

The plans also call for new eight-phase traffic signals at the intersections of F and G streets. Traffic signals at A, B and L streets will be changed out with new models to accommodate the new two-lane configuration.

No full road closures are expected during construction — which should extend into October — but lane closures are likely. Work hours will be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

The city will pay for a little less than half of the $1.9 million project through a Sacramento Area Council of Governments grant, worth $836,000. About $800,000 will come from Davis’ transportation and transportation roads funds, $200,000 from a Highway Safety Improvement Program grant and $50,000 from Community Development Block Grant funds.

B Street bicycle corridor improvements: August-October

Similar to First Street, the city also has made plans to flatten out a stretch of B Street, between Fifth and 14th streets, to improve the road conditions on another main bicycle thoroughfare in Davis.

After much patchwork and maintenance, the road has crowned to the point where a major overhaul must be made, according to Kelly Stachowicz, the city’s deputy city manager.

Construction kicks off in August and should last about two months. The section of B Street between Seventh and Eighth streets will be closed for about three weeks during the beginning of the project for an entire road reconstruction, forcing vehicles to detour around that section of B Street.

The project also will include upgrading street corners with ADA ramps and improvements to curbs and gutters along the corridor.

Aside from the road closure, lane closures also should be expected. Work hours will run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. only on weekdays.

The city has not yet put the project out to bid, but engineers estimate it will cost about $800,000, to be paid for through the city’s general fund and Community Development Block Grant funds.

Drexel Drive bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements: August-October

To improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in front of Holmes Junior High School on Drexel Drive, the Drexel Bicycle Boulevard Improvements project will add painted shared-lane markings for bicycles and vehicles to the street, bulb-outs at L Street and Drexel and new pedestrian ramps and crosswalks.

Plans also include the addition of speed tables, a separate two-way cycle track lane — from Drexel to about 400 feet north of J Street — and converting all street lights to LED.

Construction will start in August and should last about two months. There will be lane closures to look out for, but city staff says that there should be minimal impact on traffic. However, the work likely will not be complete by the time school resumes in late August.

The project will cost $333,740, with funding coming in the form of a $159,000 SACOG grant and $174,740 from city funds.

Third Street utility line “undergrounding”: fall 2013-spring 2014 

In an effort to improve the aesthetics of one of the main corridors into UC Davis from the downtown, PG&E will begin “undergrounding” the overhead power lines hanging over Third Street between A and B streets.

The trenching phase of the project should begin in about three to four months. The city expects partial street closures to occur throughout the course of the project and work will take place only between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.

The city also says that there’s a potential for power and gas service disruptions when the crossover to the new lines occurs, but residents in the area will be notified beforehand.

PG&E will fund the entire project with state allocations from Rule 20A, which allows overhead-to-underground utility line conversions.

The “undergrounding” is part of the overall Third Street streetscape master plan that was designed to improve all aspects of the main corridor between the city and the university.

PG&E natural gas transmission line replacement: July-November

PG&E will retire about 3 miles of natural gas transmission line running underneath Davis this summer, forcing the utility to dig up the road in several locations throughout the city.

The city says on its website that PG&E will replace the lines for safety reasons, though a PG&E spokesperson said Thursday that the utility is merely enhancing its natural gas distribution system throughout its service area.

Crews will be out the third week of July to dig out and cap the old pipeline to retire it from service. Then, the utility’s contractor will install a new pipe that will serve as the transmission line for Davis. The project will be ongoing until November.

Construction will occur on L Street between Second Street and Duke Drive — just north of Fifth Street — on Covell Boulevard, on L Street and Claremont Drive and on all of Olive Drive.

The city and the utility expect partial road closures, with slower stop-and-go traffic near the construction sites. Work will take place between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The utility will have to vent the gas from the existing line before retiring it, so residents can expect to possibly smell gas at that time.

PG&E will pay for the entire cost of construction.

Crown Castle distributed antenna system: July-October

The City Council spent five long meetings last year hashing out how to ease the aesthetic blight that community members believed a 25-node Crown Castle wireless network antenna system would bring to their respective neighborhoods. What resulted was a pared-down, 21-node system that will affix antennae to existing or new streetlights and other utility polls throughout Davis.

The system, according to Crown Castle, will improve cell coverage, but only for MetroPCS customers.

Installation of the nodes — and of the wiring and fiber above and below ground, which will force crews out into the street and occasionally close vehicle lanes — begins the second week of July and likely will last until October.

Work at the various sites will occur between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.

The work will come at no cost to the city.

— Reach Tom Sakash at tsakash@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

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Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at tsakash@davisenterprise.net, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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