A couple of months ago I went to visit Northwest Fresno to see the new Tesla Supercharger. It’s a part of town I rarely go to, so I made the effort to hit a few other spots and see the progress on bicycle trails and the like in the area.
I stopped by point 1 on the map below to see if there had been any progress on the Veteran’s Boulevard Trail, which was approved last July.
There wasn’t. Looked the same as it did 10 years ago.
Returning to Herndon, I drove up the street and while waiting for the traffic signal, point 2 in the above map caught my eye.
A park. With a playground. Brand new.
Unfortunately, Google Satellite Image is over a year outdated as this point, so you can’t see the park or the new lanes, but you can see them taking shape.
Streetview caught the city hard at work widening away, which is not visible in the above image. The new park can be seen on the right.
One can never really have too many lanes.
The park itself is, well, it’s a Fresno park. Plenty of dead grass (we’re in a drought you know), modern, but boring play equipment, and trees that maybe in 20 years will provide shade.
I guess pleasant enough, except for the highway in the room.
Hard to miss.
Here’s the crosswalk for the newly widened residential street. Yes, residential street. Note the yellow crosswalks, which mean this is a school zone.
The new housing development across the street is what prompted the addition of even more turn lanes.
What is interesting about this neighborhood is that access is completely blocked off except on Herndon. To the north, a private country club. To the east, a railroad. So there are only two ways in and out, shown in green.
That’s not a huge surprise in Fresno. Some top tier circulation planning is at work.
However, the neighborhood was 90% developed before the new homes at the corner went in. Is the addition of those few homes really enough to warrant the addition of two new turning lanes at the intersection? I guess so.
But back to the park. Who would want to bring their kids here?
You don’t have to know anything about health to know that diesel fumes from trucks and heavy traffic is not good for you or your family. And yes, Herndon eastbound will be widened in the next couple of years, to 3.5 lanes.
Here’s a reminder of why this is bad:
Traffic-related air pollution is a main contributor to unhealthy
ambient air quality, particularly in urban areas with high traffic
volume. Within urban areas, traffic is a major source of local
variability in air pollution levels, with the highest concentrations and
risk of exposure occurring near roads. Motor vehicle emissions
represent a complex mixture of criteria air pollutants, including carbon
monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM), as
well as hydrocarbons that react with NOx and sunlight to form
ground-level ozone. Individually, each of these pollutants is a known or
suspected cause of adverse health effects (1–4). Taking into
consideration the entire body of evidence on primary traffic emissions, a
recent review determined that there is sufficient evidence of a causal
association between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and asthma
exacerbation and suggestive evidence of a causal association for onset
of childhood asthma, nonasthma respiratory symptoms, impaired lung
function, all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and
cardiovascular morbidity (5).
At least 8 percent of the more than 300,000 cases of
childhood asthma in Los Angeles County can be attributed to
traffic-related pollution at homes within 75 meters of a busy roadway. A new study published online September 24 in Environmental Health Perspectives
also indicates that previous estimates of childhood asthma exacerbation
related to air pollution may have underestimated the true burden of
exposure on society. The research focused on the Los Angeles basin.
Maybe we shouldn’t be exacerbating the problem by building new parks just steps away from our regional expressway. Fresno already has some of the worst air in the country. Do we have
to rub it in by encouraging the kids to play here?
There’s a fence so kids won’t run into traffic, but that fence doesn’t stop the bad air. Those trees aren’t doing so much either.
So how do you make this park even worse? You throw in some more traffic danger.
This is the whole park.
Some genius decided the best thing to do was to have the park extend across the roadway, at a curve built for fast speeds and low visibility (especially if people parallel park at the corner).
I mean, the “park” on the other side isn’t exactly a prize the kids will be rushing to.
Oh, and the area east of the playground?
A true field of dreams. Where your soccer ball can either bounce off the high voltage electricity tower or meander off onto the highway.
I hope when the kids are having fun they keep their shoes on.
But really, why are we building this in 2016?
On the plus side, they build a new section of the Herndon bicycle trail as part of the housing development. Not exactly a fun recreational route (6 lanes of high speed traffic remember), but a vital connection for bicycle commuters who would rather not share the lane with 60mph traffic and have no other choice (remember the broken street network?)
Park on left, looking east.
A bus stop, with a fence budget that was a tad too high…and no existing or planned bus service, looking west
The bus stop, looking east.
One bollard is really more than enough.
The Herndon bike path is still a road to nowhere as many parts are missing, but one day it will be a decent route.