Tag: construction

It’s taken Fresno over 3 years to rebuild a bus stop

On January 9, 2017. the Manchester Transit Center closed for renovations. It has been over three years and it is still closed for remodeling.

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The Manchester Transit Center is one of three spots in Fresno where multiple bus lines meet, allowing seamless transfers. Or at least that was the case, as those buses were rerouted for the “temporary” construction project.

It’s not a particularly challenging project. It’s a surface level bus stop with 6 spaces for buses to stop. There are benches. There is a light canopy. There’s a trashcan or two. The FAX office is there, which sells passes, but that was never touched, and looks hilariously outdated. Click to read more!

A Final Look at Construction on Fresno’s New Fake BRT Line “Q”

Fresno’s new fake “BRT” (bus rapid transit) line, branded as “Q” is set to open Fall of 2017. Well, that’s what the website says.

Key Dates
Construction Kickoff: June 2016
Construction: 2016-2017
Testing: 2017
Launch: Fall 2017

In reality, the bus line was delayed yet again to February or March of this year (originally, it was expected way back in 2012).

And this time they really mean it, so they’re hosting public meetings to educate people on what the bus line is. The first one is this week:


Shaw & Blackstone Corridor
January 17, 2018 | 5:30 pm–7:00 pm
Tornino’s
5080 N Blackstone Ave
Fresno, CA 93710 

Quick aside: This is a complete failure of public outreach and engagement. Asking people to come to YOU, on a certain date, at a certain time is public outreach in name only. FAX knows where the customers are (on the bus and at the stations). FAX should come to the people. Nobody is going to take time and money out of their day to go to a random location to hear some official talk about a kiosk. Worse: The three meetings are in the same time period (5:30pm-7pm) so anyone who works during those hours is out of luck.

Depressing. I recently read about a city which launched a new bus service and advertised it by mailing info to every house within 1/4 mile of the route. That’s outreach.

Also, at some point they should maybe tell the public how this will affect the two existing bus lines that currently run on Blackstone and Kings Canyon. I’ve yet to see any information about that.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the construction shortly before the new line opens. This post looks at a regular stop in Blackstone, the Manchester Transfer Center, and the Van Ness stop by the Courthouse Transfer Station.

Previous updates:
September 2017
January 2017

We start at a random bus stop on Blackstone and Clinton. This location previously had a regular bus stop, shelter, and bench.

Like all the Q bus stops, the sidewalk was pushed out into the roadway. This is because the stations require extra space, and because it means the bus doesn’t have to pull out of traffic. Pulling out slows the bus because drivers don’t let the bus merge back in.

Oddly enough, this stop already had a shelter and bench, so the sidewalk was already wider. They actually REMOVED sidewalk in this process….why?

You can see the sidewalk to the left is all even, rather than extending back a bit towards the store. This actually causes the “newly widened” sidewalk to have a narrow pinch point. Couldn’t those electrical boxes be kept in the back?

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On the other end, the sidewalk extension doesn’t go all the way to the corner. Why?

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Here’s looking north.

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And with a bus that didn’t stop.

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Some people have worried that extending the stop out has made the lane too narrow. Nope. Look at the blue car in relation to the width of the lane. The sidewalk could have been extended another 5 feet or more.

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The stops have bicycle racks.

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Garbage cans.

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A semi-transparent roof. I don’t know what’s up there.

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This stop was not fortunate enough to get seating with back support.The stop previously had two benches, so this is actually a downgrade.

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There are now ticket machines.

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They take credit cards

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Everything is in English and Spanish.

….except the “language” button. Really. Oddly, “Cards” is in white text in English, while all the other English is in black text.

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The map is still locked away

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The (unnecessarily large) electrical box is to support the kiosk and also a time estimate, although I didn’t notice a screen.

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And one last look.

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Now we move to the Manchester Center Transfer Center. This place closed a year ago. When I visited in August, I was shocked at how little progress had been made at what is the busiest bus stop in Fresno.

Four months later, it’s not looking much better.

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A year of construction and they couldn’t even level the place.

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For reference, this is what the old shelters looked like

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A lot of FAX buses will stop here. The stop at the end is for Q.

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Very similar to the previous stop we looked at.

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The ticket kiosk and map.

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But two benches, one with back support, one without.

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This trash can is open for business.

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There are bike racks, but they were installed incorrectly. They should be rotated 90 degrees, or else you can only lock 4 bikes rather than 6.

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Note the location of the push button. This is a good installation. The location we’ll look at downtown was installed badly.

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The Blackstone crosswalk. This was built brand new in 2016…and then never opened. They ripped it all up and built it again. Your Fresno money at work. (Although the newer design is much better). However, the push button is not well located.

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(The pedestrian crossing is functional, I pushed the button and it quickly changed)

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From the parking lot.

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And now we go downtown to the Courthouse Transfer Center on Van Ness.

Q will stop at island platform, the other routes along the courthouse park like always.

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Same design here as the other stops.

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Except this one has a longer roof than the random stop on Blackstone. Only one bench though.

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Other direction

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New crosswalks built to the islands at a new signal. Remember earlier how I called out the push button? These are badly installed because they are relatively out of the way.

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One thing they did do well is install the vehicle detection. See the circle and lines in the pavement? That’s how the traffic signal knows a bus is waiting. A bus can stop behind the white line, load, and then when ready to cross, move forward to trigger the traffic signal. (As long as the drivers are told to do this).

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The angle of the red/green arrows is a novelty in Fresno. But the signal on the far left is a waste of money.

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The other shelters in the transfer center were updated. I think the design is pretty cool, but I love Art Deco.

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For reference this is what the old ones looked like. They were horrendously ugly, but they provided a lot more cover.

Is it too much to ask for the shelters to be both attractive and large?

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That’s it for the Fresno FAX Q update!

Service is supposed to start soon, and hopefully it improved the lives of those using the bus system to get around. Faster boarding will speed up trips, and buses every 10 minutes (during peak hours) will be well used.

Shame it took a decade to built what many other cities call “standard bus service.”

My next post will be a look at construction inside the Manchester Center Mall. The new food hall was supposed to open this winter, will it? (Hint: No).

New Google satellite imagery for Fresno! (Fall 2017)

Posting updates about Google Maps satellite imagery in the Fresno region used to be a frequent topic on this blog. Thanks to the lack of clouds for half the year, Fresno was lucky in that new images were posted about twice a year, compared to some more populated area that only got an update every other year – or even less frequently. Basically, to provide the images, a satellite has to take hundreds of pictures, and then they are all blended together automatically to reveal a seamless image without clouds in the way. Since Fresno has so many clear days, it’s much easier to get the shots.=&0=&(it takes them a couple of months to process and update – that’s normal). There was also an update taken on =&1=&, which I noticed around July, but never got around to posting about.=&2=&

Fresno Fulton Mall / Street September 2017 Construction Photo Tour

This is a comprehensive look at the Fulton Mall (future Fulton Street) in Fresno, 2 months before construction is scheduled to end. Fresno is spending around $20 million to eliminate a pedestrian mall and re-open it to vehicles and vehicular parking. The intention behind it is to bring economic vitality to the corridor.=&0=&

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.

The speed of this project has surprised me. Kicking off was a year delayed (original completion date was next month) but they’ve since moved quickly after a March groundbreaking. That’s certainly good for the businesses which are in a bad shape right now. However, I was surprised to see how superficial the construction was. It appears that they scraped off the mall and are laying the new road straight on the dirt. That is, I didn’t see any digging. I assume the area has very old sewer and electrical systems, and now would have been the very best time to replace those. Maybe lay some fiber cable as well? Seems short-sighted to ignore that. If the area “booms” as the project component claims, will the existing underground infrastructure support them?

Section 1: Tuolumne to Fresno

We start at Fulton and Tuolumne, which is the north end of the mall. For reference, all pictures taken lastThursday starting at around 4pm.

No work at the intersection yet, which is slated to get major pedestrian improvements.

The orphan street, which hasn’t led anywhere in 40 years, is being used for staging. 

 And so we begin. A pedestrian promenade reduced to around 8 feet of walking space.

The walkway to CVS.

The former mall

Narrow walkway between construction and a parking lot.

 This would make a good Halloween maze.

Maybe a maze with a maximum security prison theme.

 Looking backwards

One of the side streets, which were also all pedestrianized. 

Ah! Suddenly the claustrophobia ebbs and fences make way for trees, a playground, and open pedestrian space. For now.

I guess it was nice of them to leave the playground a little longer. Remember, the city claimed that this project would not impact park space at all.  (Fresno is 97th in park space, out of 100).

But not all is well.

Another oasis remains, for now.


 Looking back.

Warning: Massive amount of pictures after the jump.

This pub is owned by one of the strongest voices supporting the destruction of the Fulton Mall. The yellow tape marks the boundary of his outdoor seating/alcohol area.

Really a pleasant area to eat, drink, chat, and gather.

Although the owner, Craig Scharton, claimed that the project would only yield dividends to business, he closed up shop. I guess destruction scares customers away. He claims he will re-open when construction ends. We’ll see.

A few fountains remain.

You quickly notice how people walk along the shade.

Looking back.

Businesses are closing earlier than they would in the past. 


  

When the mall was built, creating shade was key. That won’t be the case in the future.

Section 2: Fresno to Tulare

We cross Fresno Street. 

You can still get the mall experience here.

For a little bit. Before you reach destruction. 

The new Fulton Street will not have any bicycle parking.

 The new Fulton Street will not have any bicycle lanes.


I think these trees are being saved? I hope so.

The areas that aren’t disaster zones still see shoppers.

 

Down a side street. Parking is coming to this stub.

Fresno’s most famous sculpture has been hauled away, to be refurbished.

This is outrageous. This business as only open for a few months when they (and their neighbors) wee forced to close due to a lack of electricity. It has since been a year. I was told that developers were going to start investing the SECOND the shovels started digging?

Not working. 



 Looking backwards

This fountain was filled in many years ago, as part of the city’s neglect of the mall.

Skateboard, bicycle, bicycle. The new Fulton Street will have zero accommodations for these folks. 

This store is quite unique.


Section 3: Tulare to Inyo

And now we get to the southern end. This part has progressed the most. However, the construction treatment is abysmal. If you wanted to kill every business this is how you’d do it.

Who on earth wants to walk down this? Narrow, dark, limited exists… it’s like crime alley.


Sure there are signs for the businesses… 

And there were some pedestrians, but I can’t imagine the businesses are enjoying this. 

Behind the fence, scenes from a disaster movie.

A maze to reach the stores

Sad.

What was my favorite fountain.

Come shop guys.

Businesses are open. 

Casa de Tamales is barely a couple of months old here. I hope they survive this.


This is an accurate representation of future bicycle facilities on Fulton Street.

 

 This tiny part will actually remain as a pedestrian mall.

I feel so safe.

While the alleys will see more traffic, there are no plans to spruce them up.

Let’s cut across quickly and look at the opposite side.

Landscaping being removed to add angled parking. 

And again, the new circulation plan means that to access many of the new parking spaces, one will have to treat themselves to a lovely drive through these alleys.

No money has been earmarked to make these look pleasant or safe. They will make a lovely impression on opening day.

Concrete has already been placed for the parking area. As I mentioned previously, it appears that no subterranean upgrades were performed. 

And we reach the end.

 The ever-so-lively existing Fulton Street shows us the wonderful future of the mall.

We can walk around to the East side. 

And take this very lovely funnel hallway

To this very lovely enclosed space, which is completely invisible from absolutely all angles. Perfect murder spot really.The city kicked out all the vendors in that store a few years ago.

Escape route blocked off.

Stairs….unappealing.

Elevators functional.

Inside the old department store.

We can ride this baby to the roof.  I’m sure all of the future visitors, after driving from their northern suburban home, will be thrilled to use this.

Parking is plentiful.

And we can sort of look at the construction. I believe that will be a midblock crosswalk. You can see how narrow the future sidewalk will be.

 

Bonus: Across the street this lovely new residential building which opened last year. 

 And this exciting venture.

Ahem. Anyway. $20 million available for cars, but apparently zero for this disaster. I trust you will believe me that the smell makes the NYC subway feel like the Swizz countryside.

Future visitors will be thrilled.



And that’s it! Fulton Mall from end to end. Next time I do a photo update I expect that all remaining traces of the mall will be gone. Again, for the sake of the businesses, I hope the city works as fast as possible.