Back-Seat Driver

City to Sacramentans: Help us improve the downtown grid

Tony Bizjak
Tony Bizjak

The city of Sacramento is asking residents to offer ideas on how to make the central city an easier, safer and more enjoyable place for workers and visitors to get around.

The program, announced this week, is called Sacramento Grid 2.0. One thing the city doesn’t want: suggestions on how to make more room for cars downtown.

“We have a fairly complete grid that already functions well for cars,” said city planner Fedolia “Sparky” Harris. “We are on a mission to have a more balanced transportation system.”

Harris said the city is taking a holistic approach, looking at making downtown work better for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and people who use or would consider using transit. City officials say they expect thousands more people to be living downtown in the next decade, many of whom will get around by means other than cars.

The downtown grid of the future, they say, should have gateways and corridors that are identifiable, attractive and worth visiting, good connections between neighborhoods and the downtown core for biking, walking and transit trips, and neighborhood streets safe for children to walk and bike. Transit stops should be safe, attractive and easy to use.

Harris said the city estimates it will have about $100 million to spend over the next 20 years on transportation or mobility projects in the downtown grid. The city is defining the grid as the central core area bounded by the Sacramento River on the west, the American River on the north, Alhambra Boulevard to the east and Broadway on the southern edge.

The city has set up a Sacramento Grid 2.0 website at www.sacgrid.com. The site contains a brief questionnaire asking people to list the challenges they face in getting around downtown and to suggest ideas for improvements.

The website has a “toolbox” page where people can see possible improvements the city is capable of doing. Those notably include 27 ways to make walking safer and easier for pedestrians.

Harris said the city is looking for specifics, down to the block and street corner. “People out there have the best concept of their experience. They know where the bottlenecks are, or the corners where no one will stop for pedestrians.”

The $100 million available for the Sacramento Grid 2.0 program does not represent all the transportation funds that will be spent downtown in the coming decades, Harris said.

The city is working with West Sacramento on a separately funded plan to add a streetcar line over the Tower Bridge and through downtown. There also are plans to build two bridges for cars, bikes, pedestrians and transit over the Sacramento River and another over the American River between South Natomas and downtown. Those bridges will get their funding elsewhere. The city and private developers are extending streets into the downtown railyard, also using other funding.

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