What’s Old is new again.
UC Davis quietly opened the final stretch of its south campus loop on Tuesday afternoon as part of a project that will create both a safer area for walkers and cyclists and a smoother drive into downtown.
Beginning at the Hyatt Place Hotel, the 1,000 feet of new street extends Old Davis Road across Solano Field. It connects to 600 feet of existing road between UCD parking lots 5 and 5A, then on to A Street where it crosses over the Arboretum toward downtown. The existing road between the lots has been built up to street standards, with the old asphalt recycled as the base for the new road.
What had been the cramped Old Davis Road above the Arboretum’s south bank — a stretch with no bike lanes and only a partial sidewalk, on one side — soon will be open only to pedestrians and bicycles.
While it’s intended to make travel safer, the new road also knits a number of arts-related buildings, including the Mondavi Center; the planned Shrem Museum of Art; Wyatt Pavilion, home to theater and other events; Nelson Hall, home of the Nelson Gallery; and farther along, the site for UCD’s planned music recital hall.
The project includes a turnaround in lot 5A so drivers can drop off passengers near Wyatt Pavilion and Nelson Hall.
The new road provides a more direct route from the Mondavi Center and Conference Center to downtown. That’s something businesses have fretted over since UCD first began planning its showy southern entrance, lying as it does closer to Interstate 80 than to restaurants and shops.
Executive Director Kemble Pope said the Davis Chamber of Commerce is “excited that Old Davis Road has been modified to better connect I-80, UC Davis and the city of Davis.”
“Visitors, residents and UC Davis faculty, staff and students can now travel more quickly and safely in cars, on bicycle and on foot between all of the great amenities that both campus and downtown have to offer,” Pope said in an email message.
Though the new roadway is open to traffic, landscaping continues. Nearby, workers are narrowing the old road to bike path proportions. Among the design’s features are grass-lined swales meant to filter storm water draining into the Arboretum.
Also part of the $2.97 million project: a new Arboretum entry plaza and wheelchair-accessible path into the Arboretum, both located at Mrak Hall Drive, and a stairway at the A Street bridge. Work likely will be finished in February.
Built by Western Engineering Contractors Inc., of Loomis, the project is being paid for with parking, Americans with Disabilities Act and deferred maintenance funds, according to UCD, with external financing repaid with campus funds.
— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden