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Third Street to get safer, prettier: One option closes road to traffic

Davis City Councilman Stephen Souza, center, discusses possible enhancements to Third Street with Dave Kane and Kari Fry, both residents of the surrounding neighborhood, during a workshop Wednesday. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

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April 7, 2011 | Leave Comment

The city this week unveiled two concepts for transforming Third Street into a more functional and attractive pass-through between downtown Davis and UC Davis.

Concept 1 is a “shared street space” design, featuring widened sidewalks and repaved road for both cars and bikes. There are two versions of the concept.

One creates a thoroughfare that allows cars to drive between A and B streets without leaving Third Street. Bollards at University Avenue now divide the two blocks and prevent traffic from passing through.

City staff is leaning toward the alternative design for Concept 1, which would not change traffic circulation. However, it would involve replacing the multiple bollards with a single obstruction at the center of the intersection and extending the edge of the sidewalk, which would force cars to turn instead of driving through.

There would be no street parking due to the widened sidewalks, but there would be pockets where delivery trucks could park while unloading to businesses on Third Street, project manager Brian Abbanat said. The sidewalks, now about five feet wide, would have an additional five feet on either side for 15 feet of walkable space, Abbanat said.

Trees, benches, public art, bulletin boards and other amenities might be placed down the center of the sidewalks on either side of the street, he said.

Concept 2 is a pedestrian- and bike-only street, closed off to vehicle traffic. The concept raises legal and implementation questions that the city attorney and staff are still researching, Abbanat said.

Both concepts received the most interest and votes out of four initial designs drawn up based on input at public workshops in January and February. The city invited the public to take an online survey, which received 152 comments.

Improvements to the two-block corridor of Third Street between A and B streets, as well as the B Street alley, were part of the mitigation plan for the city’s rezoning of the 21 land parcels bound by A, B, Second and Fourth streets for mixed-use in 2007.

The community outreach, planning and engineering portion of the project is budgeted at $90,000 and being funded with redevelopment money and a $39,900 Caltrans grant. Preliminary estimates showed construction, which may begin as early as summer 2012, would cost roughly $1.5 million, but the actual cost will probably be higher, Abbanat said.

City staff plans to apply for a grant from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to fund the construction, Abbanat said.

To be competitive for SACOG funding, the project needs to be shovel-ready and have the community’s support, he said. The city introduced the project and set the stage for community dialog with a public workshop and walking tour of the site in January. A group visioning exercise was done at a workshop in February.

Stakeholders in the area have been closely involved in the process, Abbanat said. The city has been working with a project oversight group made up of residents, business owners, property owners, an urban designer, architect and representatives from the Davis Downtown Business Association, disabled community (for ADA compliance concerns), student government and the university, he said.

As a gateway between campus and the downtown, Third Street sees more than 4,000 bikes pass through on an average school day and plenty of pedestrians and cars. The corridor has character, including a pleasant tree canopy and many restaurants, but also has narrow sidewalks, uneven pavement and poor drainage. Other improvements might include better lighting, landscaping and handicap access.

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