Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza and his wife Janet have been puzzled for years by the Caltrans sign on eastbound Interstate 80 near Dixon that reads “Davis 8 … Sacramento 20.” In fact, if you drive eight miles east from that sign, you are right at the Mace Boulevard exit, having driven way past UC Davis’ Old Davis Road exit and the Richards Boulevard exit to downtown.
The mayor wondered, “Were people missing Davis completely as a result?” “Was the Caltrans handiwork intentional.” “If so, why?” “Was the sign made for a different location?” “Had Davis been moved at some point?”
He drove the distances one night to confirm his strong suspicion. Then he talked to a Caltrans representative at an early February Sacramento Area Council of Governments Transportation Committee meeting. After Caltrans officials did some quick calculations, they realized that the sign, which had been in place for decades, was off by 2.3 miles.
Within a two-week period, Caltrans corrected the errant sign with the correct distance to Davis – six miles, rounding up from 5.7 miles, which is the distance from the sign to Richards Boulevard.
According to an email from Krovoza’s Caltrans contact, Jeff Pulverman, deputy district director of planning and local assistance, “We’ve resolved the problem by changing the ‘8’ on the sign to a ‘6,’ based on a re-evaluation finding that the distance between the sign and Exit 72 (Richards Blvd.) is approximately 6 miles, and approximately 8 miles to Exit 73 (Mace Blvd./Chiles Rd.).”
In his note, Pulverman quoted the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices that the state uses to determine sign distances:
“The distance shown (on the sign) should be selected on a case-by-case basis by the jurisdiction that owns the road or by statewide policy. A well-defined central area or central business district should be used where one exists.”
“I am pleased we finally know how far it is to Davis,” Krovoza said. “Can you imagine how many folks drove by our fair city thinking it was ‘up ahead’ and then upon reaching the Yolo Causeway never turned back? These passers-by missed our wonderful downtown and its Central Park and U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, our bike paths, downtown art, Farmers Market, tree canopy and our easygoing political discourse. Heck, some might have missed out on a higher education.
With the new sign, I fully expect an uptick in our local economy, no doubt about it.”