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Just What Makes a Widening?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2008, at 10:10PM
Curb Cut Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Curb work at 2nd and Los Angeles is seen in this photo from July 18th.

Via the tip form, Jason sends in this question on the work currently taking place next to the Caltrans building:

they are definitely widening 2nd street between main and los angeles streets. they are creating right turn lanes onto Main-- just as me and other city workers feared when passing that intersection every day! what gives? do traffic engineers not consider a turn lane "widening'?? thanks for everything!

It's a fair question... Just what defines a widening?

This afternoon I took a look at the work being done at the corner of 2nd and Main. It appears that they're adding a right-turn pocket that's roughly thirty or forty feet long, taking cars from westbound 2nd to northbound Main.

Personally, the addition of turn pockets doesn't seem to be that big of a deal. The community's main objective in fighting the 2nd street widening was to prevent the removal of trees, and none are affected by this work. The bulk of the curb is maintained at its previous position, and there was never parking on that side of the street to be altered.

On the other hand, a turn pocket is pedestrian-unfriendly because it increases the length of the crosswalk. Street design in South Park has taken the opposite approach, with "bump outs" being installed on the corners around the South Group's developments.

And so, to answer Jason's question: Traffic engineers will likely continue to care most about cars and therefore not think much of adding turn pockets, but in this case I think we can still consider the bigger war won.

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