Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Slow children at play

As the Tracy Press reported Thursday, residents in the Lincoln Boulevard-Lowell Avenue neighborhoods are fed up with speeders and reckless drivers. So city engineers came up with one novel solution: turn the 4-lane parkway into a 2-lane residential road with one lane in between for left-hand turns.

Reducing the load-bearing capacity of one of the city's four main north-south thoroughfares might seem like a pretty goofy idea for an area that already suffers traffic congestion, but the plan might work. It's worked in other areas, like Stockton's Miracle Mile, so this idea is worth considering.

However, it should also be of note that these narrowing projects are usually done in commercial districts to increase parking and the feel of an old-time downtown strip in addition to discouraging speeders. Lincoln Boulevard is not a pedestrian-heavy commercial district. Its purpose is, as engineer Ripon Bhatia is quoted, a "to carry traffic. You want people to drive on those streets" like Lincoln Boulevard.

Tracy, remember, is designed with many looping and closed-off subdivisions that don't lend themselves to through traffic. Main avenues, like Lincoln Boulevard, are designed to (barely) carry the load that these neighborhoods can't support. These engineers better think long and hard before turning Lincoln into a bottleneck, from a residential main stretch into an impassable mess.

Surely no one should put up with repeated speeders and accidents in front of their home. But that street was there before these angry residents bought their homes. And getting rid of speeders on one stretch of road might just not be worth creating even more of a traffic problem for the entire city.

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