Making Sacramento streets safer

City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela (right) and city transportation planning manager Jennifer Donlon Wyant attend the opening of "slow" streets in Midtown on Feb. 12. (Photo from @katie4council)

Editor’s note: City Council considers next steps in plan to end traffic deaths by 2027

On Friday, the city of Sacramento launched its “slow and active” streets project to improve safety for residents who are walking and bicycling more often during the pandemic. The partial street closings cover 1.6 miles in Midtown: 26th Street between J and V streets; O Street between 22nd and 26th streets; and V Street between 21st and 26th streets. And the pilot project is to eventually include six miles.

But the risk of pedestrian fatalities are a perennial risk is a bigger problem that will last far after the COVID-19 pandemic eventually passes.

So on Tuesday, the Sacramento City Council will consider the next moves to try to end traffic deaths by 2027. Council members adopted the “Vision Zero” strategy in 2017 after learning that Sacramento had the state’s highest number of speed-related traffic fatalities and collisions involving pedestrians younger than 15 and resulting in death or serious injury.

One plan on the council agenda Tuesday is to focus on the five most dangerous corridors in Sacramento with specific fixes:

  • Florin Road from 24th Street to Munson Way, 249 crashes causing injuries to motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians between 2009 and 2017;
  • Marysville Boulevard from North Avenue to Arcade Boulevard, 188 injury crashes;
  • Stockton Boulevard (South) from McMahon Drive to Patterson Way, 176 crashes;
  • El Camino Avenue from Del Paso Boulevard to Steelhead Creek trail crossing, 143 crashes;
  • And Broadway/Stockton Boulevard from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to 13th Avenue, 122 injury crashes.

The plan—put together after two years of community outreach and transportation study—calls for countermeasures designed for the specific problems along each corridor.

The fixes—such as pedestrian signals and crosswalks, redesigns of streets, new and differently timed traffic lights and sidewalk improvements—are designed to prevent collisions between vehicles and bicyclists and pedestrians and reduce traffic speeds. The plans are projected to cost $16.45 million for El Camino Ave., $12.85 million for Marysville Blvd., $11.9 million for Florin, $9.5 million for Stockton Blvd. and $8.8 million for Broadway/Stockton.

The plan also includes upgrades to the bicycle lanes in the three corridors with high numbers of crashes involving bicyclists: Marysville Blvd., Broadway and Florin Road.

On Tuesday, the City Council will also consider the Vision Zero school safety plan to improve access and safety at 20 public and private schools, chosen by the number of nearby collisions and after community input and study. (Schools next to the five corridors were excluded because of the other projects.)

They are Natomas High, Northwood Elementary, Sutter Middle, Garden Valley Elementary, Mustard Seed, Smythe Academy, H. Allen Hight Elementary/Natomas Middle, MET Sacramento High, William Land Elementary, Washington Elementary, Sacramento Charter High, Aspire Capitol Heights Academy, St. Hope Public, Bret Harte Elementary, Father B. Kenny Elementary, Oak Ridge Elementary, West Campus High, Earl Warren Elementary, Las Flores High/Rio Cazadero High and Capitol Collegiate Academy.

“When implemented, the Vision Zero School Safety Plan will improve access to schools for students walking, bicycling, taking the bus, or being dropped off,” the staff report says. “These safety improvements will make active transportation and transit a more appealing option for a greater number of students.”

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