Davis, community partners receive three competitive transportation grants

Davis, community partners receive three competitive transportation grants

Photo Credits: JEREMY DANG / AGGIE

Sacramento Area Council of Governments awards $8.1 million to Davis projects

On Dec. 6, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) announced that three Davis transportation and green energy projects won grants totalling $8.1 million. The projects awarded include the I-80/Richards Boulevard Interchange Improvement Project, the Electrify Yolo Project and the County Road 32A Railroad Crossing Relocation Study.

The I-80/Richards Boulevard Interchange Improvement Project will receive $5 million through SACOG’s Regional Program, which is SACOG’s largest competitive program.

According to Mayor Brett Lee, the I-80/Richards Boulevard Interchange Improvement Project should bring welcome change for both drivers and cyclists. As the interchange operates now, traffic can at times back up onto the interstate.

“There is planned to be a small redesign in how cars exit and there will be a light there,” Lee said. “So, the traffic flow off [of] the exit should be a little better.”

City Manager Mike Webb explained that the city has been working with Caltrans in the project’s design phase for the last year and a half, meaning the changes are well on their way. Construction is expected to begin in 2020.

“The next stage really is to complete construction drawings, and get the remainder of the funds and funding package in place for going out to bid,” Webb said. “We [will] be going out for construction bids at the end of this year, 2019.”

In addition to reconfiguring the Richards Boulevard westbound I-80 ramps, the city and  Caltrans will work to add a pathway beneath the onramp to promote bicyclist and pedestrian safety and will close the Olive Drive exit to improve safety in the Olive Drive neighborhood. Changes will affect students and faculty who commute from outside of Davis as well as those who ride their bikes and drive to the UC Davis campus from South Davis.

“The redesign is really important because it will make [the interchange] a much safer way for people from South Davis to ride their bikes to the downtown or campus,” Lee said. “[The project] actually should improve the traffic flow as well.”

The other safety project, the County Road 32A Railroad Crossing Relocation Study, is a joint proposal between the City of Davis and Yolo County and will receive $200,000 through the community design program.

The study will consist of “developing a project scope and cost estimate for a potential crossing enhancement and/or relocation,” and “reviewing alternatives and identifying the preferred option,”according to a city press release. Presently, the road’s current sharp turns near the railroad crossing affect cyclists on their way to the Yolo Causeway bike path, cyclists commuting between Sacramento and Davis and vehicles including trucks driving to the landfill.

Accidents have occured, prompting relocation disputes and subsequently a memorandum of understanding between the Union Pacific Railroad and the city, wherein parties agreed to pursue a long-term solution to the railroad crossing problems.

Lee sees redesign as necessary for the crossing.

“The visibility is not ideal, and then also, cars try and go a little too fast for the turn,” Lee said. “Ideally, we would have a better way of slowing people down and having them stay in their lane.”

The Electrify Yolo Project will receive $2.9 million as a green region program grant. Valley Clean Energy — with the City of Davis, the City of Woodland and the County of Yolo — will use the grant funding for this project to add electric vehicle charging stations throughout Yolo County as well as an electric shuttle service in Davis.
Grant project lead and director of customer care and marketing, Jim Parks, anticipates that the project will promote green energy in the region.

“If people can see that there’s charging infrastructure around … [and] as more chargers become available in public locations, people will reduce the range anxiety and be more open to purchasing electric vehicles,” Parks said. “We want to lay the foundation for future growth, which we expect will then facilitate more people adopting electric vehicles.”

Electrify Yolo will install approximately 20 level two charging stations, up to 10 mobile, solar-powered chargers and two to five direct current fast chargers in Davis. The charging infrastructure in Davis, Woodland and Yolo County will be publicly available, networked and credit card enabled, although functionality details have not yet been decided.

The grant gives Electrify Yolo four years for completion, and has an 11.6 percent cost-share.

“It’s exciting for us to get a grant of this magnitude in our county,” Parks said. “Now that the grant has been approved, now the rubber meets the road.”

Webb feels positively about the success of these grant proposals as a whole.

“This recent round of grants — of grant funding we’ve received from SACOG — is a real testament to our commitment to leveraging our local dollars and stretching them and making them go as far as we can,” Webb said. “I’m really proud of the work that our staff and our supporters put into making these grants’ applications successful, really pleased to see the work result in a very positive [outcome.]”

Written by: Anne Fey — city@theaggie.org