Caltrans presents Broadway improvements; bike lanes, crosswalks and raised medians considered

Caltrans presented information on multiple proposed projects aimed at improving safety and mobility on Broadway Street between Kmart and Fourth and Fifth streets in Eureka during an open house on Wednesday.

The six scenarios in the Broadway feasibility study include raised medians, more traffic signals, bike lanes and additional crosswalks.

"It's trying to figure out what can do to make the Eureka 101 corridor safe, sustainable, efficient and integrative, meaning it ties in with all modes of transportation as well as the people that live here and use it," Caltrans District 1 Director Charlie Fielder said.

From 2002 to 2012, there were more than 1,000 accidents -- including seven fatalities and just over 500 injury crashes -- in the Broadway corridor, Caltrans associate transportation planner Kevin Tucker said. Speeding caused 40 percent of them.

The crash rate is four times higher than the statewide average compared to similar corridors, Tucker added. With the improvements, Caltrans also hopes to reduce congestion.

Arcata resident Paul Pitino said he's pleased with the proposed improvements.

"I'm real impressed that they're considering signals, safe crossings for pedestrians and improved facilities for bicyclists," Pitino said. "It looks like Caltrans is really trying to do complete streets like they've been mandated to do. It's nice to see it happen in real life."

Senior Action Coalition member Sylvia Ryan said that while she's happy to see certain areas, including a signal at Hawthorne Street, addressed, she's concerned that traffic calming isn't a component.

"If the biggest cause of all collisions is speeding, my feeling is the calmer we can get traffic, the safer it will be for both drivers and pedestrians trying to cross the street," Ryan said.

Tucker said some ideas previously considered had to be weeded out so that the final project can be constructed within the timeframe of the feasibility study.

"It's modeled for the year 2020," he said.

The department will now incorporate public feedback as it did after a 2012 open house before finalizing a draft this summer. Once the study is complete and improvements are identified, Caltrans will move forward with the California Environmental Quality Act analysis, Fielder said.

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.