Pedestrians who live in the city's Westchester neighborhood may get a new crosswalk at 24th and Pine streets to replace the ones that will be removed to facilitate to the 24th Street widening project.
A resolution to be presented at Wednesday's Bakersfield City Council meeting recommends a signalized crosswalk that would include a protected median so that pedestrians and bicyclists wouldn’t have to cross both directions of traffic at once. The existing crosswalks on busy 24th Street are not signalized.
City staff were directed to come up with a plan for a replacement crosswalk after the City Council approved in October the removal of the existing crosswalks at Alder/A Street and Drake/D Street because of the widening project.
“I think the proposed crosswalk accomplishes what has been requested,” said city Public Works Director Nick Fidler. “It would be a good asset for the corridor.”
City officials sought the removal of the two crosswalks for safety reasons related to the project, which will broaden 24th Street from two lanes to three in each direction.
Fidler said motorists would be transitioning from the four-lane Highway 178 onto the new three-lane 24th Street near the currently existing crosswalks and would have too little time and distance to safely adjust to the presence of pedestrians.
After hearing from dozens of residents at the City Council’s Oct. 11 meeting about the need for some kind of crosswalk to connect the north and south sides of the Westchester neighborhood, Councilman Andrae Gonzales made a motion to remove the current crosswalks but direct staff to come up with an alternative place for a crosswalk further down 24th Street.
The city’s designer for the 24th Street widening project, TYLin International Group, came up with three possible locations for a crosswalk based on two criteria: it must be close to the other crosswalks and safe enough to cross.
Besides Pine Street, TYLin looked at Cedar Street and a mid-block crossing between Cedar and Pine, according to an administrative report.
The company decided Pine Street would be the better option because it would give motorists more time to stop after coming onto 24th Street from Highway 178 and provide a better sight distance than Cedar.
Councilman Gonzales said he is happy to see the city follow through on what the council and residents requested.
“(I) don’t have a say in where it should go, but I do support a crosswalk that’s safe on 24th Street, so if they say it would be best at Pine, let’s put it at Pine,” he said.
Gary Enns, a bicycle enthusiast who helped lead the effort to encourage the City Council to keep the existing crosswalks and turn at least one of them into a signalized crossing, said that he believes the plans for Pine Street are a step in the right direction.
“I think if there’s going to be one crosswalk, Pine is as good a place as any. It’s pretty close to the [Alder/A Street] crosswalk,” he said. “I’m happy to see that it’s a plan for a signalized crosswalk and has a median. That sounds like good design.”
Enns said he will be attending the Dec. 13 meeting to see if the resolution is approved by the City Council.