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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Editorial: Time to tame Fifth

Fifth Street in Downtown Davis is notorious for the dangers it presents to bikers. The heavily trafficked street currently lacks bike lanes, creating a hazard both for bikers trying to use the street and the cars that have to avoid them.

Now that the Davis City Council has approved the Fifth Street Corridor Project for $836,000, some of these issues may finally be fixed. Even though this project probably should have started sooner and may cause inconveniences in construction, the plan will ultimately improve one of the scarier streets of Davis.

The main goals of the project are to decrease driving lanes to one lane in each direction, add bike lanes and incorporate left-turn pockets in the middle of the street. Some in the public forum and discussion of the project have been concerned about the decreasing driving lanes, worried that it would cause even more traffic congestion. However, the benefits to bikers may be so high that fewer people will drive on the street anyway.

The planners in charge of this project, Davis Community Development Administrator Katherine Hess and Senior Civil Engineer Roxanne Namazi, should be commended for how much public input they welcomed. The project website has an entire page devoted to public comments, with over 100 suggestions already on how to improve Fifth Street.

One important question that is still difficult to answer is, how long will this take? It has already taken about two years for city planners to gather community input and finalize the design. Even now, after approval, there will still have to be planning and preparing the site for construction. By the time construction is underway many current students will have graduated from UC Davis; actual construction, which is an infamously slow process, will take even longer.

These are bureaucratic problems that are almost impossible to avoid. Moving too slow is usually preferable to moving too quickly when it comes to construction, as putting the idea into place before the community could have their say would have been disastrous.

The Fifth Street Corridor Project has been a long time coming and could immensely improve safety for bikers and drivers alike. Though residents should temper their optimism, as any unexpected problem could grind the project to a standstill, the success will benefit future students and residents living in Davis.

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