Troubling Numbers in New Chico Traffic Report

City officials are working to address skyrocketing traffic numbers and accident reports.

Posted: Jan 18, 2019 12:26 PM
Updated: Jan 19, 2019 9:44 AM

CHICO, Calif. - City of Chico officials are working on a big issue clogging up the roadways.

Action News Now reporter Stephanie Lin sat down with Chico City manager Mark Orme for a closer understanding of the numbers released in the new traffic report. 

Following the Camp Fire, thousands of evacuees poured into Chico. The city's population exploded 20 percent overnight, and average daily traffic numbers went up by 25 percent. 

"There's been a dramatic shift in the traffic population since the disaster," Orme says, "and that's a huge increase that we normally wouldn't see for 15, 20 years out. Our roadways were not built to sustain that."

The city manager tells Action News Now that the first priority is identifying projects to help solve immediate infrastructure problems.

On the table - special software that would allow for manual control of traffic lights throughout the city. But as with any large scale project, this initiative costs money. Orme says he plans to bring this and other funding requests up to state lawmakers during their visit to Butte County this week. 

According to the new traffic report, average daily traffic increases range from four percent to 70 percent in Butte County. Chico roads have seen a 50 percent increase in dangerous collisions, which include head-on crashes. That has put additional pressure on police and fire resources. 

"The anticipated revenue we thought we would receive in order to support the current staffing model is currently being diminished," Orme said.

A projected $800,000 in property tax revenues is no longer in play following the loss of homes in the Camp Fire. When we brought up Governor Newsom's proposal to provide three years worth of property tax support to the county, Orme says that support, while appreciated, will not come in time. 

State Route 99 is also highly impacted, particularly during evening rush hour. Data from the new report shows average speeds dropping by nearly half. 

The report goes on to describe Chico as the hottest housing market in the country. With so many unknowns as to what the clean-up in Paradise will be like and when it will end, locals should expect traffic and housing to be big topics of discussion moving into the rest of the year. Reps with the city of Chico say they are continuing to work with state and federal agency partners on funding options to help pay for new infrastructure costs and more police and fire workers.

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