Back-Seat Driver

Tony Bizjak: Sacramento wants to turn more one-way streets to two-way

Javier Garcia removes all the “one way” signs to covert Freeport Blvd. into a two-way street from Broadway to 4th Ave., February 7, 2008. Sacramento officials today will unveil Sacramento Grid 2.0, the idea includes turning 62 blocks of one-way streets back into two-way streets.
Javier Garcia removes all the “one way” signs to covert Freeport Blvd. into a two-way street from Broadway to 4th Ave., February 7, 2008. Sacramento officials today will unveil Sacramento Grid 2.0, the idea includes turning 62 blocks of one-way streets back into two-way streets. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Sacramento officials today will unveil a plan they say will make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists and buses to get around the central city – and possibly even easier for some downtown drivers too.

It’s called Sacramento Grid 2.0, a long-range concept that will turn the central-city grid into a friendlier place for the 10,000-plus people expected to move in over the next decade, as well as for drivers who sometimes get confused by the tricky array of one-way streets.

The draft plan will be presented at a City Hall public forum at 5:30 p.m. Monday. A final proposal will be presented to the City Council next spring. If approved, changes will occur as money is available.

The idea includes turning 62 blocks of one-way streets back into two-way streets, the way original gridmaster John Sutter meant them to be, said City Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents downtown. Those proposed changes don’t affect all one-way streets, but include changes to portions of Fifth, Seventh and Eighth streets, and several blocks of G, H, I and N.

“Instead of having to go in circles to get where you want, you can go directly,” Hansen said.

The city also has designed a number of streets where officials want to reduce lanes, often from three to two. That includes the midtown stretch of J Street between 19th and 30th streets, as well as segments of L, N, P and Q near the Capitol.

Hansen and city planner Fedolia Harris say the goal is to slow traffic and add more breathing room for cyclists and pedestrians.

Traffic moves quickly down J Street in midtown, for instance, although it’s surrounded by residential areas and is replete with restaurants, cafes and small businesses that attract a lot of pedestrians, especially on weekends, evenings and nights. The 20th and J intersection is one of the diciest mixes of cars and pedestrians anywhere in the region.

The lane reductions will make room on many streets for designated bike lanes. The Grid 2.0 plan envisions 162 more blocks of bike lanes filling in gaps in the central-city street grid. Currently, bike lanes disappear from one block to the next, causing some cyclists to veer onto the sidewalks, where they run into conflicts with pedestrians.

“It’s not revolutionary; it’s common sense,” Hansen said. “We’re making the system function more logically.”

Planners also are talking about designating bus-only lanes in some spots. Harris acknowledges the changes may slow some car commutes, but says early analysis suggests it won’t be by much.

The city and drivers saw proof of that on 16th Street, a major commute corridor into downtown in the morning. The city blocked one of the three lanes a few weeks ago to allow room for an apartment construction project at N Street, but it caused traffic flows to slow only slightly.

Harris says part of the reason is the genius of Sutter’s street grid. There are multiple routes to get anywhere.

Maps showing the proposed changes are expected to be posted for viewing at www.sacgrid.com by Tuesday.

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