Pacific Avenue Proposal for 2-Way Traffic Rpt

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					                                   DOWNTOWN COMMISSION
                                      AGENDA REPORT



                                                               DATE: May 11, 2012
AGENDA OF:            May 24, 2012

DEPARTMENT:           Public Works

SUBJECT:              Pacific Avenue – Proposal for 2-Way Traffic


RECOMMENDATION: That the Downtown Commission make recommendations to
City Council regarding the possible conversion of Pacific Avenue and side streets to two-
way traffic or one-way traffic southbound.


BACKGROUND: In October 2011 city departments were directed to evaluate changing
the direction of Pacific Avenue from its present one-way and two-way configuration to a
general two-way configuration or possibly a one-way southbound configuration. The
request was originally initiated following the completion of the Gibbs Planning Group
Retail Marketing Analysis which was presented in September 2011.

The purpose of the retail market analysis was to assess the viability of additional retail
sales for existing businesses and the potential for development of new retailers in the
commercial district areas of Santa Cruz. The report quantifies the retail sales potential of
the community and summarizes the relevant demographic characteristics of each trade
that can support an increase in retail market share and overall economic performance.

The report identified a significant amount of retail sales leakage, where residents of Santa
Cruz are shopping elsewhere for goods and services. The report estimated Santa Cruz’s
Trade Area retail expenditure at $2.16 billion and estimated retail receipts of $312.3 an
85.5% gap. This is equivalent to $1.8 billion uncaptured sales. ($18 million in General
Fund sales tax losses).

The report also noted that the City does an excellent job of maintaining our parks, streets
and parking garages and that our public art is a major attraction to the downtown, greatly
enhancing the pedestrian and shopping experience for visitors to our community
SUBJECT: Pacific Avenue – Proposal for 2-Way Traffic Report
DATE: May 24, 2012
PAGE: 2

DISCUSSION: The Public Works Department working with Fire and Police arranged a
field test of the two-way configuration on November 3, 2011. A one-way northbound
lane was coned off between Lincoln and Church, and existing traffic and Fire Department
trucks were routed to this lane. It was clearly demonstrated that a two-way Pacific
Avenue was neither safe nor feasible with parking on both sides of the street. The
Downtown Association withdrew their request in advance of the scheduled public
meeting on the item.

The departments then scheduled a new field test on March 28, 2012 between Lincoln and
Church with parking removed on the west side of the street. While this test demonstrated
that two-way traffic circulation is possible, the Fire Department has identified emergency
response access issues that are not resolved with the parking removals. The turns from
and to side streets are tight and the rear of the ladder track will overhang the centerline,
potentially hitting vehicles in the other lane or not being able to proceed. When Fire
responds to a Pacific Avenue emergency, the street will be blocked in many cases. A full
street closure for 2-way traffic is more complicated to implement and impacts more
people, requiring the assistance of Police.

Concurrently with the field tests, staff has analyzed the intersection capacities and delays
for existing and 2-way conditions. The Soquel/Pacific intersection falls below the
acceptable level of service threshold and Soquel would likely back up past the parking
garage. Two solutions are feasible: 1) restrict left turn from Soquel to Pacific, or 2)
install a left-turn lane which requires parking removals.

The following benefits and drawbacks have been identified with the two-way street
changes:

Benefits
   • Street direction less confusing.
   • Bicyclists can now legally travel both directions.
   • Do away with left-side parallel parking.
   • Potentially improved sales per Gibbs report.

Drawbacks
   • Impact to emergency response route and response times from Fire Station 1 to
      Soquel and areas east of downtown.
   • Fire response on Pacific more difficult with 2-way traffic. Closures require more
      staffing and Police assistance.
   • Ladder truck turns from/to side streets cannot be made safely.
   • Congestion and delay impact to all cross town traffic via Lincoln-Walnut-Soquel.
   • Additional traffic congestion at the intersections.
   • More greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, air pollution with stopping/starting
      and delay at stop signs.
   • More points of conflict between motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians with the
      number of turning movements added at intersections and mid-block.
   • Removal of bike lanes on Lincoln, Walnut and Soquel.
SUBJECT: Pacific Avenue – Proposal for 2-Way Traffic Report
DATE: May 24, 2012
PAGE: 3

    •   Potential for damage to smaller cherry trees along west side from trucks.
    •   Loss of 39 close-in auto parking spaces, 2 accessible spaces, 1 emergency vehicle
        space & 6 bike parking spaces.
    •   Cost to implement is approximately $38,200 (Reverse change is $31,500)
    •   Parking revenue loss to District of $52,000.

The following benefits and drawbacks have been identified with the one-way southbound
change:

Benefits
   • More cohesive direction for traffic from Water Street.
   • Does not impact emergency response like two-way.
   • No Loss of parking or meter revenue.

Drawbacks
   • Change in pattern initially confusing.
   • Does not encourage Beach connection.
   • Requires changing directions of Walnut and Lincoln.
   • Cost to implement is approximately $25,000.
   • Does not bring northbound traffic to side streets with garage facilities.

FISCAL IMPACT: If changes in street direction are approved, funding from the General
Fund, in the range of $25,000 to $38,200 is needed. There may be an annual impact to
the Parking District of $52,000.

Report prepared and submitted by Christophe J. Schneiter, Assistant Director/City
Engineer.

Attachments:
City Council Oct 2011 Report
Downtown Association Request
Draft Pacific Ave Two-Way Striping Plan
Draft Walnut, Lincoln and Soquel Striping Plans

				
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