Mass confusion, no. Some confusion, yes.
Recent changes to the configuration of Fifth Street have yielded mostly positive results in the flow of traffic, with completely anecdotal observations the past few days at morning, afternoon and evening times.
But city officials are waiting for temporary striping to be finished before they launch any investigation into the science that will be monitoring the real-world effects of the changes.
The project is scheduled to be finished sometime next week, due to short delays in contractor staffing and mix-ups with orders for equipment that pushed back the timeline in the past, city staff said.
“It’s too premature to make observations right now,” said Michael Mitchell, Davis’ principal engineer.
On Monday, city contractors were hard at work striping crosswalks, redoing concrete ramps to sidewalks at intersections and painting bright green boxes in the bike lanes that form the visual cues where bikes and cars have to look out for one another.
While some locals have seen bicyclists still riding on the sidewalks, instead of in newly marked bike lanes, the action is sometimes warranted as contractors closed off bike lanes at various times while they were striping Monday.
Vehicles seemed to have had the most trouble when funneling from two lanes to one lane on Russell Boulevard between A and B streets, there being no signs to warn drivers of the change, except for bright orange cones dividing the road into vehicles wanting to go straight and those wanting to turn south on B Street.
Observations were taken from the old Lincoln Highway marker in Central Park near the intersection of Fifth and B streets and by driving through the intersection at various times.
Minor delays at B Street were seen only in the morning rush, and in one observation, lasted only several seconds as drivers in the left lane were mostly polite and let drivers into the correct lane to continue straight. A couple of drivers didn’t seem to try, and turned south with their left-turn blinkers on.
Overall, traffic seemed smooth, especially at F and G streets, where observations yielded no problems and no delays for drivers turning left from F and G streets to go west on Fifth Street, a problem for vehicles in the past because there were no protected turns. The presence of contractors doing their work seemed to have no effect on vehicle traffic.
The Fifth Street Corridor Improvement Project is, by some accounts, more than 18 years in the making. Originally, it was slated to be finished by late spring.
It is called the “road diet” in some circles, a word coined by transportation planners in the 1990s and used across the country. Bicycle safety advocates have made the project a priority of theirs for many years, citing the preponderance of accidents in the corridor, and experienced bicyclists’ general fear of the stretch.
Four lanes of vehicle traffic have been reduced to two through lanes, with the addition of bike lanes and left-turn sanctuaries — called turn pockets — along with new protected left-turn signals at many intersections. Some crosswalks eventually will have flashing beacons to make it easier and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the road.
The speed limit on Fifth Street between A and L streets will be reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph.
Fifth Street is just part of summer construction work around town. Here’s a rundown of other projects sent by city staff, accurate as of Aug. 8:
* B Street update: “The resurfacing and temporary striping has been completed. City Council will review striping and parking provisions for B Street between Fifth and 14th this fall.”
* Lake Boulevard bike path: “The final phase of remediation on this section of the bike path is tentatively scheduled to start on Aug. 25. The final phase of construction activities include repairing the damaged curb, gutter and uplifted AC in the parking stalls and replacing the gutter at the bike path ramps to remove the lips for ADA compliance. The work should be completed in two weeks from start.”
* Third Street utility undergrounding: “Construction between A Street and B Street will continue through September/October. Expect road closures, construction equipment and removal of on-street parking.”
* UC Davis Memorial Union bus terminal closure: “The terminal will be closed to all traffic for the entire summer for re-construction (through Sept. 28). There will be new temporary bus stops set up for Yolobus on Russell Boulevard at Howard Way during construction, and their buses will be stopping on Russell during that time. All Unitrans buses (and Solano Express/Fairfield and Suisun Transit) will be at the Silo Terminal or Art Building on Hutchison Drive.”
* D Street partial parking and sidewalk closures: “The sidewalk and several parking spaces on D Street will be closed due to construction at the Coldwell Banker property at Second and D streets.”
Fifth Street facts
Confused about how to navigate the new Fifth Street? Here’s a primer:
* Motorists should stay behind the triangular yield markings until pedestrians have crossed the intersection;
* The rapid rectangular flashing beacon will flash after it is activated by a pedestrian in the crosswalk;
* Bicyclists in the roadway yield to pedestrians and bicycles in the crosswalk;
* Bike boxes are safety features that allow bicyclists to get to the front of an intersection and protect them from a right-hook collision; motorists must wait behind the green box until all bicyclists have left the box
* Vehicle right turns are not allowed on red lights where there is a bike box;
* Motorists must yield to bicyclists in the bike lane when making a right turn on a green light.
– Reach Dave Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews