Placerville Pedaling Forward
New bike lanes with pedestrian and roadway improvements create better access to resources
April 28, 2020: New bike lane alert! The City of Placerville is well on its way to becoming more bike and pedestrian friendly with the Upper Broadway Bike Lanes and Pedestrian Connection Project (UBBL) that will construct a brand-new bike lane along with sidewalks and a transit stop. The UBBL project will construct a 1.2-mile long bike lane along Broadway from Schnell School Road to Point View Road and will also include amenities for people on foot, including a shoulder, sidewalks, and safety railing.
The infrastructure improvements from this program will do more than just encourage people to walk, bike, or take transit, it will also create more accessibility to key community resources. The eastern end of the project is home to a critical community resource, the Upper Room Dining Hall that provides meals to anyone who needs them. With the addition of a bike lane and sidewalks, people who do not have a car will now be able to access this resource more easily. The new infrastructure will also help folks living in the eastern end of the city come down to downtown Placerville without depending on a car.
The UBBL Project reflects good asset management and strong community engagement. Construction of the project will also include sewer, storm drainage, and additional road improvements at the same time, reducing the costs of each component significantly. Strong community engagement has also shaped this project, as the original plans only included the bike lane and not sidewalks. Early engagement with residents showed the need for sidewalks and that led staff to apply for an Active Transportation Project grant to add more funding to make the sidewalks possible. The city received it and added on to their multitude of funding sources to make this project a reality, which is a feat all on its own. Mayor of Placerville and SACOG Board Member Michael Saragosa said “this project is the perfect example of how small communities are pushing for active transportation in a way that makes sense for us. We are leveraging different funding, we are thinking about all our needs, and making projects happen to help our residents live active and healthier lives.”
From a technical standpoint, the project paves the way for rural communities looking to make active transportation more prevalent in their communities by finding ways around local challenges with the needs of users in mind. The local terrain and wooded areas brings more challenges for creating a bike lane, but the project is designed with cyclists’ needs in mind: a four-foot lane going uphill to accommodate a slower speed climb that brings about more “wobble”, shared-lane markings downhill, and a two-foot shoulder. The Upper Broadway bike lane is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2020.
The bigger story in Placerville is that this project part of the City’s goal to create a continuous bike and pedestrian corridor from one end of the city to the other. In the project pipeline there is also the Placerville Drive project that is currently in the environmental phase and is scheduled to begin construction in the fall of 2021. Though the two are separate projects, once completed they will be connected by the Class I bike path system, Class 2 bike lanes, shared lane markings, and sidewalks through the Main Street corridor.
Though COVID-19 has brought a halt to regular life, the UBBL project is still within its timeframe and is projected to be completed in November 2020. As for the Placerville Road project, staff will be challenged by finding the best way to provide meaningful public outreach opportunities using virtual tools as it is in the environmental clearance phase. But once we get through Covid-19, Placerville will be pedaling more than ever.