A joint project by the cities of Richmond and San Pablo to slow down traffic and boost the economic vitality along Rumrill Boulevard and 13th Street has taken shape.
Earlier this month, the Richmond Planning Commission heard a presentation of recommendations for how to calm and improve the corridor from Harbour Way in Richmond to Contra Costa College in San Pablo.
The proposals followed a grant-funded study and several community design workshops. Read the study’s findings here.
The final proposal would reduce the two vehicular lanes in each direction to one and add bike lanes, trees and other landscaping. The new configuration is meant to better connect Contra Costa College and the Richmond BART station, encourage walking and cycling, promote economic activity, address lighting concerns and slow down traffic.
The project area south of Market Street (as pictured above) would use landscaping and additional street trees to separate the sidewalk from traffic in order to make pedestrians feel safer. A dedicated bicycle lane in each direction would also increase safety, project managers say, as the two-wheelers would be separated from traffic by both landscaped areas and parked cars.
For the northern part of the corridor (pictured below), which currently has a raised median and no parking, a dedicated bicycle lane in each direction would be separated by a raised rubber curb. Also, a landscaped area separating the sidewalk and bicycle lane would serve to capture storm water. Planners dealt with space constraints on the northern portion since they needed to account for emergency vehicles.
Sidewalks and crosswalks would receive repairs and improvements along the entire corridor. Bus stops would receive new shelters, and some stops would be slightly relocated to offer modest improvements to bus operations.
An environmental review of the plans is ongoing, with results expected to be presented to city bodies early next year. Also, funding still needs to be identified. However, the city of San Pablo was recently recommended to receive $4.13 million from the California Active Transportation Program to implement much of the improvements that fall in its jurisdiction.
Some community leaders, members and groups say current conditions along the corridor are unsafe, unattractive and don’t encourage active lifestyles and alternative modes of transportation.
To understand why the project is needed, all you have to do is visit the Lao Family Center on Rumrill Boulevard, where some of the community workshops were held, said Megham Mittman of Fehr and Peers, the project’s lead consultant.
“You could feel the building vibrating because of the speed and intensity of the traffic,” Mittman said.
Richmond Planning Commissioner Marilyn Langlois said she liked the bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
“I’m really excited to have this particular corner of the city get some attention,” added Commissioner Nancy Baer. “It feels sort of detached and disconnected and I think this project will go a long way toward making it feel integrated.”