On Tuesday, the Davis City Council continued discussion regarding the redevelopment of Fifth Street, an issue that has been in the works for three years.
The council voted to begin community outreach and reassess the various options in the fall. The city is most concerned about the segment of the street between A Street and L Street.
Three different proposals were brought up by the city as hypothetical plans of action during the meeting.
Option A would improve conditions for bicyclists on other streets, such as Eighth Street, while leaving Fifth Street as is.
Option B would widen Fifth Street to include bike lanes but would require the removal of several mature trees.
Option C, known to many as the “road diet,” would narrow Fifth Street to two lanes and add bike lanes and a middle left-turn lane that would be shared by eastbound and westbound vehicles.
Most of the residents at the meeting spoke in favor of option C, stressing that the current state of Fifth Street is unsafe and inconvenient. Fifth Street is one of the only direct routes from West Davis to East Davis, and many bicyclists complain that the lack of bike lanes in the downtown area make transportation hazardous.
“This is about safety,” said Steve Tracy of the Old North Davis Neighborhood Association. He reported that 30 traffic accidents had occurred on Fifth Street in 2008.
Concerns about the potential “road diet” came mostly from the business owners of Davis, who were worried that narrowing Fifth Street might affect traffic flow into downtown.
“We have to make sure all the goals of the community are met,” said Steve Greenfield of the Davis Chamber of Commerce. “It’s got to work for everybody.“
Greenfield said he was concerned that traffic in and out of Downtown Davis might decrease if Fifth Street is reduced to two lanes.
The city planned to fund the project with Redevelopment Agency money, though the idea was suggested in Tuesday’s meeting that the city could apply for grant funding instead.
Councilmember Sue Greenwald moved to partially implement the “road diet” immediately, by re-striping Fifth Street and changing traffic lights. If the idea worked, she said, the city could finish it.
“Intuitively, a lot of people think [this idea] wouldn’t work,” Greenwald said. “I’m convinced that there’s real reason to believe it will work, and it will help business downtown immensely.“
Other councilmembers were hesitant, expressing a desire to analyze the situation further and gather more data.
“I’d rather base our solution on a real clear connection to the accidents, and what we’re trying to solve,“ said councilmember Don Saylor.
Ultimately, the council agreed on a compromise. Option B was cut entirely, since it was largely unanimous that trees should not be cut down, and it was decided that the city should go forward with community outreach regarding options A and C.
“We will present the community with the results of the analysis that we do on each option so everyone has a full understanding of the pros and cons,” Clarke said.
When the next grant application opportunity becomes available, which according to Clarke will be in September or October, the city will reevaluate the Fifth Street redevelopment project while taking into account the opinions of the community.
SARAH HANSEL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.