Year: 2016

A quick look at the reconstruction of the Tuolumne bridge for HSR

One of the most obvious signs of High Speed’s Rail’s (HSR) coming arrival to downtown Fresno has been the demolition – and now reconstruction – of the Tuolumne street bridge. The bridge was two lanes wide and carried traffic eastbound over the Union Pacific right of way. It was paired with the Stanislaus Street bridge which carries two lanes westbound.  

Both bridges will be demolished and replaced by a single bridge carrying traffic in both directions. The bridge will feature wider sidewalks as well. The reason is that aside from being 50 years old (or more?), the current structure of the bridge does not allow enough room for the new High Speed Rail tracks to fit. Once the new bridge is in place, and the Stanislaus Street bridge has been demolished, more serious work can be done downtown to create the new tracks and station. Click to read more!

7th daily San Joaquin train launches on June 20 – a look at the new schedule!

Amtrak’s new 7th daily San Joaquin train will launch on June 20!

A few months ago, I reported that final touches were being put on a new 7th daily train between Bakersfield and the Bay Area. Although they missed the predicted launch date of June 6, you can now purchase tickets reflecting the new schedule that kicks off on the 20th.

That’s how I was able to see what the new times look like, because the full version has not been posted on Amtrak’s page, Let’s take a look!

We start by looking at northbound trips from Bakersfield to Oakland. The blue trains in the image go to Sacramento. That means that in Stockton you transfer to an Amtrak bus if you want to reach Oakland or San Francisco. The red “train” in this image is actually a bus. It is intended for folks coming from Southern California, and terminates in Fresno. It requires purchase of a connecting rail ticket, due to lobbying by Greyhound. Click to read more!

This is what the destruction of Fresno’s Fulton Mall looks like

Fresno’s pedestrian mall, one of the first in the country, is no more. A multi-year campaign by the city to remove the pedestrian and bicycle mall it and replace it with a street for cars has been successful, as (de)construction is well underway.

I took a walk down the entire length last week and took too many pictures. This post, from August, has some reference pictures as to what it looked like a year ago. Be warned, this post is long.

The north part has totally been removed. The center part looks disconcerting, with plenty of mall left but lots of destruction. The southern end has already progressed to the point that concrete is being laid for the parking areas. Click to read more!

Is this new park the worst in Fresno?

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. Click to read more!

Fresno air service still more limited than peer cities

A few years ago, I though Fresno Air Terminal (FAT) was prime for the addition of new flights, especially as the economy picked up. Jetblue was, and still is, rapidly growing. Virgin America was ready to compete with big plans. Southwest was continuing its slow-but-steady expansion into more and more cities, and disruptive airlines like Spirit were popping up. Surely new service to Houston, Chicago, and maybe Atlanta was coming to Fresno sooner rather than later.

Yet here we are in 2016, and the only innovative or low-cost airline to serve Fresno is Allegiant Air, an airline that surprisingly was founded and headquartered in Fresno before leaving for Vegas. At one point, they offered service from Fresno to Reno, Portland, Lake Tahoe, and Long Beach. They served Hawaii from Fresno in 2012, but mostly abandoned that market in 2014. Today, from Fresno, they only serve Las Vegas and Mesa, Arizona (new for this year). Click to read more!

A quick look at Clovis’s new Centennial Plaza

Tomorrow Old Town Clovis hosts their first ever parklet festival. When posting that reminder, I realized I never upload photos of the new Centennial Plaza and streetscape development. I talked about it back in July of 2015, and I visited the area a few months ago, but never actually posted them!

If you visit the parklet exhibitions, you will surely see the new plaza. The city planners will also be using the festival as an opportunity to celebrate the groundbreaking of two new buildings what will ride on vacant lots on either side of the plaza.

So let’s take a quick look. As you can clearly see, these photos were taken in January, but aside from more greenery and less holiday decorations, the area looks the same today. Click to read more!

Reminder: Clovis Parklet Festival is This Weekend!

This is a reminder that on May 14 and May 15, Old Town Clovis will be hosting a “taking it to the streets” event, where a variety of parklets are presented to the public. Parklets are mini parks installed on a street parking space to add greenery, seating, art or other amenities to downtown areas. The event is intended to build teamwork, showcase art, and provide a proof of concept to area businesses of what a permanent installation could look like.

This is what the website says:

The Old Town streets have always been a place where people gather to enjoy local life and festivities.  Streets increasingly play important ecological roles in the city, with strategies that serve to magnify the space as a livable and living, place.  Many highly beneficial social outcomes, including economic growth, increased health, and improvements in air quality are linked to well-designed streets that enable active social and ecologic life.  “Taking it to the streets” seeks to elaborate on the street’s role as an agent of social life.
This PDF map shows the planned locations.  Attendance is free of course, and I believe they will have comment cards so people can talk about their favorite installations.  ‎Dwight Kroll, the Director of Planning and Development Services, commented on my post from February to let us know that on Saturday they will also be celebrating the groundbreaking for two new buildings scheduled to rise around the new Centennial Plaza. I talked about those proposed buildings last July.

I was going to link to my photo tour of the new plaza but, uh, I never actually posted it. Woops. I’ll have that up shortly. I’m not the only blogger with too many draft posts right? Click to read more!

Thoughts on Chaffee Zoo Expansion and Roeding Park (with pictures)

I haven’t been a huge fan of the expansion of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Not because I hate zoos, but because the expansion required taking a huge portion of a public park and fencing it off. What used to be free public space now requires a ticket, and is only open during business hours (until 4pm for most of the year).

Unfortunately, Fresno has one of the worst park systems in the country, and the expansion reduced the size of the system further. It makes sense to expand the zoo in a contiguous fashion – you can’t
have half the zoo located three blocks away. Also, it’s cheaper to
replace grass and benches then it is to replace an elephant habitat. However, no mitigation was put in place. No effort was made to replace the park space anywhere else, including across the street, in a lot that has sat empty for decades. Click to read more!

A look at Amtrak California ridership – February 2016

The recent news that the Amtrak San Joaquin line is getting a 7th daily train inspired me to ask, how is ridership doing? Long-time readers might remember that Amtrak ridership updates used to be a frequent (quarterly) feature on this blog, but the last one I did was in December…of 2012! Oops. Well, I’ve updated my spreadsheets, so let’s take a look at how ridership has been doing on California’s three state-supported Amtrak lines.

We begin with a chart showing all three California lines over the past 15 months. That allows us to see seasonal changes over the course of the year, and get a brief reference of year-on-year progress. Click to read more!

Amtrak San Joaquin finally getting 7th daily train!

June 6 is the planned date for when a 7th daily train will begin service on the Amtrak San Joaquin route which serves California’s Central Valley. Currently, 4 trains a day run from Bakersfield to Oakland, with two running from Bakersfield to Sacramento. Additional thruway bus service offers connections to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and a dozen other cities. The new train will run between Bakersfield and Oakland.

Final preparations for this addition to the schedule have been underway for about 6 months now. Although the service is run and branded by Amtrak, it is funded by California and currently managed by the “San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority” which took over from Caltrans in 2015. Since they took over, they have pushed to make the new 7th trip a reality. The new service will cost $7.4 million a year. Click to read more!