Plans Proposed to Make the Esplanade Safer for Pedestrians

Apr 5, 2016 12:59 PM by News Staff

Now to a proposal to improve the safety of one of Chico’s main streets.

The city public works and engineering department will present its ideas to revamp esplanade to city council tomorrow night.

It's a historic and well-loved street in Chico, known for its parallel residential side streets and timed lights.

Public works and engineering says it's now one of the most dangerous roads for pedestrians and bikers.

The department began a study last May to look at what needs to be done to fix the problem.

"I actually saw a girl get hit by a car here,” said Becky Flanagan, a concerned Chico resident. “She almost made it across before the light turned red, the car that hit her kinds jumped the gun but they didn't even bother to stop."

Flanagan describes her experience living next to The Esplanade. A historic roadway but according to city planning and engineering, it's an outdated one.

"There’s safety issues, whether its collisions, just know issues out there that are not in compliance with state and federal regulations," said Brendan Ottoboni, Chico Public Works and Engineering Director.

These non-compliance issues pose a particular risk to pedestrians and bikers.

"One of the glaring statistics that we've seen in the study is that if you're a bicyclist you're 3 times more likely than the state average to get into an accident," he said.

Chico Public Works and Engineering conducted a study beginning last May to look at problems with The Esplanade.

They’re now pitching their solutions to the city council.

"One of the proposals would be to turn the corner of esplanade and memorial into a roundabout."

Another idea is to create identified biking infrastructure along the esplanade corridor.

'At certain points we are missing sidewalks altogether, and so it'd be connecting that so again there’s a consistent accessibility for ADA concerns as well as any pedestrians," Ottoboni said.

Residents who live near the esplanade have experienced some problems with the roadway as it is now.

“The ones right off of esplanade should at least have four way stops,” Flanagan said. “The cars don't pay any attention. It’s bad.”

Many Chico locals however are against the proposals. They argue against making changes to an iconic street that's a famous piece of Chico history.

According to planners, the project should serve only to enhance the corridor.

“We all know it's iconic as is but we want to make it safer for all modes of transportation,” Ottoboni said. That's vehicles, bikers and that's pedestrians."

Whatever work the council approves, public works and engineering will write into a grant proposal.

The active transportation program awards money from the state to improve roadways like The Esplanade.

The plan is expected to encourage more foot and bike transportation.

The plans will be presented Tuesday night, the work, which would begin in 2019, would cost at least several million dollars, and provided in-full by grants from the state.


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