Let’s Get Moving
City traffic plan will help make connections
By R.E. Graswich
Some people get frustrated when local government tells them something obvious. Not me. I find it satisfying, even comforting, to see a municipal report that validates precisely what I’ve been saying all along.
The Pocket Greenhaven Transportation Plan is one such document. The plan is a big deal, sponsored by the city to establish priorities and expenditures in traffic safety and connectivity for decades to come. The work started before the pandemic. Now it’s nearing the finish line.
Bureaucratic delays, combined with a reluctance to bring large groups together in town halls under COVID-19, slowed the project. Opportunities for public discourse were limited. But final opinions are now being solicited, leaving local City Councilmember Rick Jennings with a clear picture of community traffic priorities.
Looking at drafts of the transportation plan, three key themes emerge. They seem basic, the sort of stuff a child could grasp. But the conclusions are nice to see, no matter how simple, certified by consultants with fancy titles and high pay scales.
First, people in Pocket and Greenhaven are serious about alternative forms of transportation, especially bicycles. They love bike paths that wind through the community and were part of the magic 50 years ago when streets, parks, schools and retail areas were laid out. They want more walkability and cycle access, especially along the Sacramento River levee.
Second, residents don’t like Pocket Road. This isn’t because Pocket Road is congested or ugly—it’s neither—but because too many drivers treat it like a freeway. They speed. They ignore crosswalks and stop signs. Pocket Road has a diabolical ability to suck normal, respectful neighbors into a vortex of dangerous behavior. It makes people drive like idiots, as if they stole the car.
Finally, the intersection of Florin Road and Greenhaven Drive, along with its approaches and exits from Lake Crest Village shopping center and Nugget Market, are awful. While the city has improved traffic signal timing and signage, the corner is the most fearsome spot in the community for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. It’s a mess.
Consultants reviewed piles of data, including accident reports, moving violations, traffic volumes and analytics from bike-share companies. They studied how comfortable people are about walking, cycling and driving. They organized listening sessions and conducted polls.
What they learned was familiar. A sample:
“Feelings of discomfort or lack of safety due to poor driver behavior.”
“Desire for increased police enforcement to address poor driver behavior.”
“Desire for safer, more comfortable street crossings for walking, especially along roads where marked crosswalks were far apart or speeding vehicles were prevalent.”
“Feeling unsafe while riding in bike lanes on major roads.”
Another non-surprise involved foot and bicycle access to the river levee. I’ve banged the drum on this outrage for nine years. Thankfully, full access will arrive with the completion of levee repairs by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Illegal private gates that block levee access are being removed. The city plans to pave gravel sections of the levee, hopefully next year. The route will serve as a proud legacy for Jennings.
The transportation plan highlights public demand for eight new levee access points between Dutra Bend Drive and Grangers Dairy Drive. Access will ring the community one day soon. The levee has been denied us for almost 50 years. The public is eager to savor Sacramento’s crown jewel.
Pocket and Greenhaven are home to about 36,500 people. Like most suburbs, it’s a commuter village. Among the working population, only 600 live and work in Pocket while 16,000 commute to jobs elsewhere.
The city commissioned the transportation plan because it figured Pocket and Greenhaven needed a refresh from circa-1970 traffic designs. The refresh proved we need slower cars and better river access. Great ambitions, even if some of us knew it all along.
R.E. Graswich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.