Back-Seat Driver

Sacramento patches ... then re-patches city streets

Workers on Land Park Drive, November 24, 2014.
Workers on Land Park Drive, November 24, 2014.

Which city has the roughest roads locally? We think Sacramento, where crews are digging up streets to replace water pipes, then tossing down an asphalt patch that leaves streets bumpy as a rock river bottom.

It could take years for the city to do a full resurfacing of those streets. The city budget for resurfacing streets is miniscule and the need is huge, “to put it lightly,” city engineer Ryan Moore said.

As a stopgap, the city is doing partial fixes on some streets. One such project is set for H Street in East Sacramento this week. Crews will replace the current patch with a 10-foot-wide patch that should make the street “serviceable.” H Street must wait in line, however, for a full resurfacing, tentatively set for 2018.

The city is planning full resurfacing this year in portions of Land Park, Curtis Park, the Little Pocket, east Del Paso Heights and the Heritage Park section of North Natomas.

Airport warning

How long is that security checkpoint line going to be when you head to the airport for your summer flight?

That’s suddenly a dicey question. Wait times increased at airports this spring because of budget cuts and operational changes at the Transportation Security Administration. We counted the wait at a half-hour a couple weeks ago at Terminal A.

Federal officials are now scrambling to boost checkpoint staffing before the summer rush. But Sacramento officials warn fliers to expect longer lines, especially in Terminal A during peak hours: 5-7:30 a.m., noon – 2 p.m., and 6-8 p.m. Security checkpoint opens daily at 4 a.m.

On the good side, once you clear security at Terminal A, the newly remodeled food court awaits.

Marysville shuts red light cameras

Marysville is shutting down its red light cameras. The city police chief recommended it, partly because the number of traffic crashes dropped recently at some intersections after the cameras had been temporarily turned off.

Those cameras initially did reduce crashes, city police said in a report, but the effectiveness appeared to level off after a few years. The report pointed out that the cameras are still visible, so drivers may think they are still working. The city will now watch to see what happens at those intersections.

We saw an interesting statistic in the city report: 85 percent of the drivers who got red-light tickets in Marysville were out-of-towners, probably passing through on city streets that double as a state highway.

Motorcycle deaths up and down

Motorcycle deaths were up 6 percent nationally last year. But California was among 16 states that saw a decrease, 7 percent, according to the Governors’ Highway Safety Association.

Though California is a motorcycling haven, Florida surged past us as the state with the most fatalities. We had 489 deaths here. Florida had 550. Texas, another sunny weather state, had the third highest number.

“We were somewhat surprised, but happy,” said Chris Cochran of the California Office of Traffic Safety. His agency, Caltrans and the CHP have been conducting a “Share the Road” campaign, with freeway signs telling drivers to look out for cyclists.

North Dakota, by the way, had the lowest number of deaths, eight. We’re on a numbers kick today: The population of North Dakota, 757,000, is only one-third the size of the Sacramento four-county region.