Tag: downtown fresno

Belated Downtown Fresno Photo Update

I went downtown a couple of months ago (January) to take photos, as I usually do. I hesitated on posting them because frankly, not much has changed over the last year. This is in contrast to five years ago, when there was always a new building popping up.

Then corona hit, and the photos seemed even less relevant, but now I’ve changed my mind on that. With the virus, everything is essentially frozen in time. Nothing is under construction, nothing will be open any time soon, and nobody is lining up to lay down piles of cash on new development. That is, even if the virus suddenly disappeared tomorrow, there are too many questions about the economy for investors. Will people get their jobs back? Will there be a change in demand for office space? Click to read more!

Fresno Launches Parklet Program

The Business Journal reported last week that Fresno has launched a parklet pilot program. (Header image is theirs).

A parklet is a low-cost, mini park that is built in what used to be a parking space (or two, or three). The intention behind them is to turn a space previously used for private car storage into something that can be used by everybody. In many cities, they are built in partnership with a local business, usually a food-related one, to create new outdoor seating. In most cases, the businesses agrees to maintain the parklet, but they are not allowed to restrict it to customers.

A parklet in southern New Jersey

The first one opened by Bitwise as a way to provide some outdoor space for the company. Click to read more!

Fresno night bus service expands to Saturdays

Two and a half years ago, Fresno Area Express (FAX) created a “night bus” network by extending bus service past 9pm on the five busiest bus routes. This new service came with a major asterisk:

  • Only Monday to Friday
  • 1 hour wait between buses after 9pm
  • Only 5 routes offering “night” service 
  • ….and only on select portions of those 5 routes

Starting November 16, at least one of those issues will be improved: service will be extended to include Saturday nights as well.

The bus routes affected include routes 1, 9, 28, 32, and 38, which are the same routes that saw a previous service expansion. Handy Ride, the on-demand paratransit service, will also follow the new extended hours.

Current weekend service in Fresno is abysmal, with even the “BRT” route (Route 1) starting the final runs around 6pm. This reality stands in contrast to the claims that Fresno government is invested in revitalizing downtown and attracting night life. Unfortunately, this news may have come too late for the Fresno Foxes. Click to read more!

Live bus arrival times now available in Fresno (FAX)!

Paris got real-time bus tracking in 1996. In the United States, NextBus launched in Emeryville in 1999. In the Central Valley, tiny Visalia adopted the technology in 2011.

And now in 2018, finally, Fresno’s bus system has real-time bus tracking!

This is incredibly important because it makes riding the bus predictable. No more standing in the heat wondering if your bus is late…or if it came early and you missed it!

As far as I can tell, they haven’t advertised this feature. No press release, nothing on the website. I didn’t even notice it myself, but it was pointed out to me by Joe in the comments. Thanks Joe!

The new Q line, set to open on February 19, 2018, was advertised as having the tech, and fortunately, it appears that the entire system has been outfitted with it.

Right now, the primary way to see the data is on Google Maps. You can check it out on both desktop and mobile. Let’s take a look!

Zoom in to a bus stop and click the bus icon. Then click on any of the buses listed.

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It will then open up the bus lines that serve that stop, along with the times for the next buses.

Times in green are live! Times in black are from the schedule.

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Compare with these other bus services that stop downtown. They’re all in black, so not live times.

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When you set it as part of your route, you will be informed of any delays. As an aside, 51 minutes in bus vs 15 in car. Hm, I wonder why bus ridership is down…

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On the phone the screens look a little different, but it’s the same concept to see all the bus times. Find the bus stop, click it, and then this opens up.

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You can then click the bus line you want and actually see where the bus currently is. This screen shows the scheduled time and the actual time.

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As an aside, note that many other transit agencies are available to help you plan your transit trips. However, not all have their real-time info coordinated with Google. For example, you can find real-time status of Amtrak trains on the Amtrak website (including a map showing current speed), but the times on Google are just the scheduled ones.

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Boltbus (and Greyhound) are available too, but the same issue – you have to go to their websites to see if they’re on time or not.

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Additionally, the Fresno website mentions a dedicated transit app. Well sadly, the app mentioned on the website is complete garbage. If there were smartphone apps in 1996, they’d probably look like this:

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This is insulting.

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HOWEVER, upon browsing the store, it appears that a second app was developed, which recently launched! The one with the higher rating is the newer one.

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Super confusing, right?

Supposedly, this new app has modern features, including the real-time tracking info.

Unfortunately, it greats you with this:

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No thanks.Why do I need to create an account to view the bus schedule? Ridiculous.

The Google Play store does have a screen shot showing that the app supposedly looks like this:

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So more like 2010 instead of 1996.

Just stick with Google Maps.

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=&

Aerial Shots of California High Speed Rail Construction Released!

The California High Speed Rail Authority have recently posted aerial shots of the various construction sites that are well underway in the California Central Valley, primarily around Fresno. They tend to post updates on their official Flickr account once or twice a month, but most are taken at ground level. Since the Google Earth satellite images are unfortunately over 2-year old at this point, these new photos, taken last week, provide a unique vantage point. Seeing the action from above, you can really understand the scale of the various bridges, and make sense of how they fit in.

The Cedar Viaduct is probably the most important construction area right now because of the impact it will have. The bridge will take trains over CA-99, which sees around 95,000 vehicles passing by every day. Many people are still unaware that HSR is actually happening, so seeing the bridge take shape will have a large impact.

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All photos courtesy of the CA HSR Authority

In downtown Fresno, they’re finally finishing the new Toulumne Street bridge. This bridge will carry cars, bicycles and pedestrians over the right of way. The Stanislaus Street bridge, seen above it, will be demolished because it is not tall enough.

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A bit north, they’re tunneling under CA-180 to let the trains go through. The trains will go under the highway, under the freight line, and under the canal.

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They’ve also rebuilt CA-99 to create a new right-of-way for the rail line.

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Another hugely impact project, in terms of visibility, will be where the rail line crosses over the Union Pacific tracks and then over the San Joaquin River – all right next to busy CA-99. This will be extremely visible to passing motorists.

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The wet winter means the bridge over the river has been stalled since December.

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Rural drivers will go over the rail line in a new overpass, in Madera.

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A bridge almost done over a creek.

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And the very first active construction site, a bridge over the Fresno River, is wrapping up.

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Wrapping up? Yes, the first construction package was for the heavy stuff in the Fresno area – bridges, tunnels, and viaducts. The train stuff – tracks and wires – are part of another construction package that hasn’t been handed out. The idea is to have the full right of way cleared, prepped, and ready to go, and then the last crew comes in and places the rail quickly and uniformly. 

Once again, check out the photos in the official Flickr account and keep them bookmarked because new photos get uploaded at least every month, and usually more frequently.

A quick update on downtown Fresno construction projects

It’s been a few months since I’ve been able to post photos of what has been changing in downtown Fresno. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to explore the area and take photos, so I present to you a different type of update. Here are some photos I took in May, along with a look at what those projects look like this week, with photos sourced from friendly people around the web. It’s amazing how much (and how little!) can change in 3 months.

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=&1=& When I last visited this project, it looked like this:

And now it looks like this:

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Source: High Speed Rail Authority

The bridge is slated to be completed this year.

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It is very difficult to provide a summary of the Fulton Mall, because it is such a massive project. That is, every block is in a different stage of development, as you can see in my full post here. However, the most obvious changes are at the southern end, where construction began.

My photos from May:

 

Steve Skibbie provides a look at progress this week from overhead.

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And the Fresno Bee from the ground.

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Bus Rapid Transit is sort of under construction. I say sort of because Fresno is no longer getting anything that resembles BRT. But those sweet, sweet transit funds are being put to use. The project involves realigning some bus stops – which happens to be a perfect opportunity to rebuilt the Van Ness underpass. Indeed, it’s why BRT is so expensive, most of the funding is being used to upgrade old car infrastructure, like traffic lights, and do so while spending transit funds. Sad.

I don’t have a before photo, so here is a rendering of the new intersection (above the underpass)

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And another great photo by Steve Skibbie.

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And one from the Downtown Fresno Partnership

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It’s not all transportation related!

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The Lede is a full block residential development by GV Urban. It looked mostly done when I photographed it in May, but apparently got held up by utility issues and will open next month. Here are my photos from May:

 

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And an interior shot by GV Urban.

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Nearby preservation of a beautiful brick building is underway.

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Progress has been very slow on the Cultural Arts park, which is now about a year behind schedule.

From May:

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Christopher Rocha shared updated photos on the Downtown Fresno Facebook page.

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And finally, moving a little north, to 541 at South Tower, a brand new building constructed in a beautiful art deco style.

Here it is back in May:

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And more recently on the Facebook page:

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Bonus: The style fits in with the area:

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There’s a lot going on, regarding infrastructure, although this investment has yielded little private (unsubsidized) investment. Let’s hope that changes soon.

Other development in the area includes:

-Yet another expansion to Community Medical Center
-BitWise technology center
-The renovation of Warehouse Row.

The First5 building was also finished, which I profiled before, and the Greyhound station is about to be demolished.

I’ll probably do another photo update before the end of the year, when the Fulton project is completed.

Google Maps Launches Areas of Interest – How Accurate is it in Fresno?

A week or so ago, Google refreshed their maps service. Most of the changes were minor – new road outlines, a different typography, and a few other minor tweaks designed to make the maps easier to understand. However, as part of that update, they introduced what could be a major new feature: areas of interest. =&0=&: Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. With only 7,855 people, it is the smallest capital in the country. At a glance, the areas of interest seem to work quite well. The new shading does draw you in quickly.=&1=&

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.

Meanwhile, other construction is underway just north of downtown, as they have begun to build a trench. However, I was unable to get any good pictures. The construction area is surrounded by private property or the highway. 

Let’s take a look at the work on the bridge. I will begin with pictures I took back in January to see what it looked like a few days before closing forever. Below them are the pictures I took two weeks ago showing the current progress.

Here is the bridge back in January, taken from the sister bridge.

Frankly I don’t understand  why so much space has been wasted for 100 years.

 The bridge itself

 Not the best of sidewalk conditions.

I’m sure the structure itself was on its way out.

 Coming back you see the official sidewalk path – not ADA

The old pedestrian path also didn’t inspire much confidence in safety.  

 Frankly, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable parking here.

But these folks did.

There she is.

Wasn’t surprised to see this.

Looking towards Fulton.

That was January!

Now let us look at some recent pictures, starting from the other bridge again:



As an aside, here we are on the same bridge looking north.  No other construction is visible.

  

 I don’t know if this bridge will also be rebuilt (max zoom!) 

Oddly, they removed the traffic signal head but kept the signal functioning. What was the point, huge waste of time. Should be blinking red.

Bridge used to touch down here.

A new view of these lofts. I don’t know if they’re losing their parking lot?

Now from H street.

The other bridge.

The new supports.

H is blocked off for construction.

I hope the new bridge has good lighting underneath, especially because it will be much wider.

 And now walking back.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!