Third Street will soon become the gateway from downtown to UC Davis. The city’s Redevelopment Agency Board passed the community outreach design plan on Tuesday. This is the first phase of the Third Street improvement project to update and beautify this area of downtown.
Phase one of the project, which is being funded by a $40,000 grant from Caltrans, will be completed by spring 2011. The second phase of the project, the engineering and construction, is projected for summer 2012.
“There’s a really long policy history to Third Street,” said Brian Abbanat, transportation planner for the city. “[The city] has been working to strengthen ties between the university and downtown via this street.”
The vision for Third Street as a prominent feature of downtown has been in the city’s plan since 1961. Known as “Third Street parade,” it envisioned a bike path and pedestrian walkway lined with benches, pools, fountains and sculptures from the edge of campus to G Street. In the 1970s, the plan for the street gave way to accommodate vehicle access to growing businesses. However, the desire to create a more defined connection between downtown and UC Davis persisted.
In June 2007, the Third Street improvement project was instated to modify Third Street between A Street and B Street, as well as the B Street alley. The first phase of this project, which started this fall, consists of outreach to the community.
“We want to outreach to raise awareness in the community that the project exists,” Abbanat said. “We will be holding several workshops to educate the community.”
The first of the workshops, slated for sometime this winter, will include a walking tour of Third Street and a forum to garner ideas on how to improve the street. Subsequent workshops will showcase alternative designs from ideas brought up from the previous workshop. Everyone in the community will be invited to participate and input design ideas for the street.
The main idea for this project is to make the street more like a promenade in the middle of downtown, Abbanat said.
Several plans are in place to create a layout different from the other downtown streets. The city plans to install unique pavements and eliminate the curbs on the sides of the street for an open design.
“While we don’t want to restrict vehicles, this layout will make them realize that they are secondary users,” Abbanat said. “This street is primarily to accommodate bikers and pedestrians.”
Other improvements to this street will include replacing and updating streetlights and sidewalk seating. A storm water filtration system, which will filter run-off from the pavements before they enter the drainage system, is also planned for installment.
“The two-block segment of Third Street between A Street and B Street currently lacks identity, sense of place and a sense of arrival either into downtown or to the UC Davis campus,” notes the background report for the Third Street improvement project. At this point, Third Street is characterized by narrow and uneven sidewalks, inadequate lighting, unsightly overhead utility lights and other aesthetically dismal traits.
Many cities worldwide have streets that showcase the personality of the area. Third Street will create an identity that will be reflective of both the city and the university, Abbanat said.
Ideas for Third Street are inspired by well-known streets in other cities. These streets include Pardall Road in Isla Vista, which is the entrance to UC Santa Barbara campus, and Dixieanne Road, a green street in northern Sacramento.
SARAHNI PECSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.