You may have noticed a new light signal under construction in front of the Children’s Home on Sutterville Road. It took more than three years.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I’m happy to have the crosswalk returning along with a signal. It’s a critical matter of safety for the young people and others at the Children’s Home. I have seen far too many kids running across Sutterville Road as cars come barreling down the hill at 40 to 50 miles an hour.
And I am not complaining about city staff, who have done a good job moving the process forward over the past three years and five months and are bringing it to completion.
It’s the system that can be frustrating. The fact that we can remove a crosswalk and it takes more than three years to replace a safety feature is just not right and must be fixed.
I thought the saga of the signal would be a good example of how difficult it can be to get something done in the city. And again, I am not arguing with the decisions that were made – when traffic surpasses a certain point, crosswalks amplify the danger. They create a false sense of safety. Taking out the original crosswalk was the right thing to do.
The new signal cost nearly $200,000 – so we had to cobble together the funds.
The city has a large traffic safety problem that we are attacking through our Vision Zero initiative, so balancing the priorities of where and when to spend limited funds is always challenging.
But three and one-half years? Really?
Here’s the chronology:
- March 2017 – Crosswalk markings are removed.
- October 2017 – Capital Improvement Project is established.
- March 2018 – Individual Project Agreement (IPA) with Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) is executed for Community Development Block Grant funds to begin the design phase.
- October 2018 – California Environmental Quality Act clearance is obtained.
- December 2018 – IPA for construction phase is executed with SHRA.
- May 2019 – Project report approved.
- December 2019 – Construction contract is awarded.
- January 2020 – Signal equipment is approved and ordered.
- June 21, 2020 – First day of construction.
- Aug. 25, 2020 – Signal startup, construction complete.
So here is my point. It is not unusual for me to get an email or text “demanding” that something be done about this or that. It may be about a crosswalk, a broken sprinkler in the park, a homeless encampment. I have two folks in my office who do almost nothing but work on constituent concerns. Generally, we take the concern and relay it to the appropriate city staff and ask that it be put on the to-do list.
Under our system of governance, I have no authority to tell city staff what to do without a majority vote by the City Council. I can’t control the timing or the work itself. It’s a system that needs improvement. The buck needs to stop somewhere and someone needs to be held accountable. I’m happy for it to be me as long as I have the tools and resources to be successful.
For now, I’m happy to have a new crosswalk and signal.