NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
In an effort to reduce traffic accidents along De La Vina Street, the City will remove one vehicle lane to add a buffered bike lane between Carillo and Haley streets, along with other changes, as part of a Public Works project.
City Council voted 7-0 on Feb 11 to authorize a professional services contract with Stantec, Inc., in the amount of $165,972 for design services of the Downtown De La Vina Street Safe Crosswalks And Buffered Bike Lanes Project, including expenditures of up to $16,597 for extra services that may result from necessary changes in the scope of work.
“(Stantec) is actually going to design the first phase of this project,” said Transportation Planning and Parking Manager Robert Dayton. “Here we are in 2020 funding just the design. Once we’re through this, we’ll come back and fund construction, and then the expected completion date won’t be till (20)23.”
In 2018, the city applied for and was awarded $1.3 million for the design and construction of the project. The estimated total cost of the design phase will be $230,337, with $174,000 funded through the grant. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $1,550,337, with the city paying $56,337.
The project is a part of the city’s Vision Zero strategy, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all.
De La Vina Street was found to be one of the city’s corridors with the most severe and fatal injuries and has some of the highest ranking intersections for pedestrian and cyclist involved collisions. In the corridors of De La Vina and Haley, there have been 26 severe collisions and one fatality in 2018, said Mr. Dayton.
To address the collision patterns, the project will remove one vehicle lane on De La Vina Street between Carrillo and Haley streets so that a buffered bike lane can be installed on the left side of the roadway.
De La Vina Street at Carrillo Street, which Councilmember Mike Jordan referred to as one of his “worst nightmare intersections in the world,” and Haley Street at Chapala Street are tied for the number one intersection for pedestrian-involved collisions, according to the Public Works staff report.
The city will also install curb extensions, high visibility signs, and pavement markings at six intersections along the project area, including lane and traffic signal changes at De La Vina and Carillo.
Along Haley Street from De La Vina to Chapala streets, four parking spaces will be removed to accommodate a bike lane that will connect to an existing bike route that goes from Downtown to the Eastside.
“By reducing traffic lanes from two to one and adding curb extensions, the number of conflict points will be reduced with much shorter pedestrian crossing gaps, and the double threat condition for pedestrians will be eliminated (one driver stops for a pedestrian, the driver in the next lane does not),” read the Public Works staff report.
“This project will also create slower speeds by eliminating one travel lane. Drivers will also feel more side friction and will only be able to go as fast as the driver in front. One lane is enough capacity for the existing and future vehicle traffic to maintain a good level of service.”
Councilmember Megan Harmon, who lives in the area, said that she hears from her neighbors about how unsafe the area can be, especially for children. She and her friends have often had dinners interrupted by the sound of an accident just outside their homes.
“This is a common experience for us who live in the area,” said Ms. Harmon. “I know there are going to be some growing pains, certainly. Any time there is change, it’s going to take some time for people to get used to the new setup, but everyone that I’ve spoken to has said ‘we will take any growing pains that you throw at us. Thank you.’ This is just such a success.”
Casting her vote in their honor, Councilmember Kristen Sneddon reminded the council of a recent fatal accident, the death of her colleague Adolfo Corral and his wife Mary Jane who were walking along a protected path in West Goleta when they were hit and killed by an allegedly drunk driver.
“Even when we do the most protections that we can and we rely on people following safety rules, it still happens. I have a renewed appreciation for the vision of Vision Zero and the true commitment that you have and dedication that you have shown over the years to seeing this to fruition,” said Ms. Sneddon.