If you thought all the CA-41 on-ramp widening projects were finally finished, there’s more work planned for this year. This time, it’s an off-ramp that’s getting widened.
This project will widen the off ramp of northbound SR41 at the intersection of Shaw Avenue from three lanes to four to provide dual left and right turns. Existing equipment affected by this project will be updated and this project will also upgrade the existing curb ramps to meet ADA standards. The project will improve traffic flow and relieve congestion at the off-ramp intersection with Shaw Avenue.
Council Documents (PDF)
Like most Fresno road projects, this one is yet another widening of the road to “improve traffic flow”. Not mentioned at all in the report is the negative impact the work will have on pedestrians and cyclists using the busy Shaw corridor.
Take a look at the off-ramp today.
I can think of many ways to improve it. One could add a bike lane. The on-ramp curve could be changed to a hard right turn, so that the crosswalk is actually respected. The off-ramp could see the extremely generous turning radius tightened to promote slower speeds and people actually coming to a stop on red. A stop bar could be added so cars don’t block the crosswalk.
You know, improve it by making it safer.
Something like this
But not in Fresno. Here the use of “improvement” is almost exclusively used when referring to more vehicle capacity. And because Fresno doesn’t actually lack vehicle capacity, the improvements simply result in higher speeds – for vehicles.
Cyclists and pedestrians? They have to slow down….and wait, and wait, and wait, because at 45mph+ speeds allowed by these designs, the crosswalks are not respected.
One of the main problems with the current design is the extremely generous right turn radius from the off-ramp. Thanks to the right-turn-on-red laws, many people don’t come to a stop as they whiz around the corner. Most drivers arrive, heads craned to the left, hopeful that even on a red, they’ll never have to go below 15mph. The pedestrian approaching from the right? Completely ignored.
Even when the vehicles do have to come to a complete stop, the lack of an advance stop line means the crosswalk is always (always!) blocked. Google streetview, unsurprisingly, caught that in action.
Indeed, from every possible angle shown, while the vehicles coming off the freeway had red, they blocked the crosswalk. (Explore yourself at http://goo.gl/maps/36z8A )
A different view from above
Yet another view from above….
On the street…
I did say every possible angle right? In this last one, don’t just notice the car blocking the crosswalk…..notice that the pedestrian ramp doesn’t even direct people the right way.
Now let’s take a look at those proposed improvements….
They take the same poor design, and simply expand it
There was more than enough room to actually add the new lane, and still make the pedestrian experience somewhat acceptable. Here, the yellow trapezoid is what I would make concrete sidewalk, but they propose as asphalt. I also add an advanced stop bar and make the crosswalk visible with stripes.
The difference? In a design that prioritizes multi-model safety, the curve wouldn’t be designed for high speed turns.
The crossing distance for pedestrians gets expanded from 40 feet, to 54 feet.
So now instead of taking about 13 seconds to walk across this ramp, it will take 18 seconds.
And now there will be one more vehicle, guaranteed to be blocking the crosswalk, attempting a right turn on red.
And the cost of this “improvement”?
The consulting alone is a bit over $80,000.
Why does making things less safe cost so much?