Monday, December 24, 2007

Downtown Plan?

Another scheme, at least it is one built on reality, in the long line of such to do something with downtown.

Downtown traffic outlook calls for more congestion
By Tony Bizjak -
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 24, 2007

Downtown Sacramento commuters, already a harried lot, might want to buckle up and put two hands on the wheel for this one:

Taking inspiration from some of the world's great cities, Sacramento officials now say a measured dose of extra congestion downtown is a good thing.

San Francisco, New York, London, all cities with dynamic core economies and cultures, also are the most congested, a group of city transportation planners says.
Traffic, according to planner Fedolia Harris, can be a "double-edged sword" in a growing downtown.

"If you want to be more than a cowtown, go to any big metropolitan area, you don't have cars moving at 40 miles per hour through the central city," Harris said.

The Sacramento City Council next year will consider easing legal standards for traffic in the heart of downtown, and to a lesser degree citywide, in the new general plan, the document guiding city growth for the next 20 years.

Current policy is to try to keep city streets moving so drivers reach speed limits between red lights.

The new proposal is part of a package deal for denser downtown growth – allowing more tightly packed office and housing projects without spending as much time and money to reduce the impact development has on street traffic.

Officials say it will mean more of the sometimes frustratingly heavy traffic that commuters now experience on J Street near Interstate 5 in the morning and on L and I streets during the afternoon outbound commute.

In technical terms, the city expects to drop its congestion standard in the central downtown business district from a Level C to a Level E, one step above the F, for "failure," level.

"It's basically saying we are going to fill (downtown) streets to the top, without overfilling, at peak hours," Harris said.

In part, the city's embrace of congestion is a recognition of reality. About 30 percent of city streets, such as L Street, already hit the frustrating point during commute periods.