Photo Credits: ZACHARY LACSON / AGGIE
Project predicted to finish by February, within budget
Originally projected to be completed in November of 2018, the construction on Third Street will finish in February, if weather permits. The project is in Phase V, the final stage of the Third Street Improvements Project, which centers around increasing pedestrian access and bike safety, upgrading infrastructure and overall beautifying of the area.
The initial four phases emphasized underground improvements, such as the continuation of a storm main pipe in Phase IV, while the latter phase primarily focuses on above ground beautification of the Third Street section located between A and B Streets.
“This week, the contractor is setting the street lights and installing landscaping,” said Michael Mitchell, the city project manager for the Third Street project, via email. “After that, the major items of work is paving B and Third intersection and University and Third, and installation of the art piece at University/Third.”
Planning began in 2006, and Phase I initiated in 2012 when the project secured $3.3 million in Federal STIP grant funds, totalling the budget to approximately $11.4 million. Despite the delays, the project will not go over the designated budget.
“The budget was sufficient and a significant portion was obtained from grant funding,” Mitchell said. “We will not experience any cost overruns.”
Ali Moghaddam, the owner of Ali Baba and a member of the planning committee for the project since 2009, noted that more efficiency and attention to deadlines could have prevented the three-month delay.
“I’m just honestly excited for [construction] to be done so I don’t have to worry about this [any]more,” Moghaddam said. “A lot of attention was paid to this, but even with all the money and attention, there’s still places that could’ve been done more efficiently.”
Some obstacles that proved to be challenging included providing parking to Third Street residents and maneuvering machinery in and out of the small area. The one-way car crossing and limited access to Third Street near the Quad District of UC Davis also proved problematic. Aside from the pedestrian sidewalks, much of the street under construction was fenced off, creating narrow walkways for pedestrians.
“Traffic control was a major issue,” Mitchell said. “Third Street is a gateway to the University with many bicycles and pedestrians. These had to be controlled around the construction site in a safe and efficient way.”
Fences and uneven surfaces also lined the storefronts and restaurants of Third Street The city notified passerbyers that businesses were still open and how to safely access them.
“Another challenge was keeping the businesses opened the entire time,” Mitchell said. “Bridges were built for customers to get to the entries when the area beneath the bridges were in construction.”
Signs were posted directing people toward restaurants, their entrances and parking lots for automobiles. Moghaddam was pleased with the provided signage around his restaurant on Third St.
“When they were excavating and doing all the digging and fences were everywhere, they did a pretty good job of creating those white bridges, and they got us those signs for the restaurants and businesses so people could maneuver through it,” Moghaddam said.
However, the construction still impacted the amount of foot traffic for Moghaddam’s eatery, which saw a decrease in sales.
“People still came, but it definitely affected it,” Moghaddam said. “I used a Square Register, and everyday it gives you sales and compares it to last year’s sale on this day. On average, it was 3 to 4 percent down from last year.”
Mason Short, a second-year communication major at UC Davis, lived on University Ave. during the summer of 2018 and frequently passed by Third Street to get to campus. Short noted the early construction hours were a disturbance to shops and residents since Phase IV. Despite the additional signage, Short also expressed that the area was still difficult to maneuver.
“I got used to just because I was walking through it everyday, but definitely when I first started walking through it, everything was confusing,” Short said. “I had to go around certain ways that would take you a lot longer to get places. For certain stores, it was kind of confusing on how to actually get into them.”
Following the tedious construction, Davis residents can anticipate street improvements such as the installation of an art piece, patterned pavers, new bike locks and street lighting, among others.
Written by: Renee Hoh — firstname.lastname@example.org