The city has published Design Guidelines that finds many problems with the bike/ped access across the new rail line. They propose various solutions — some are good ideas and some are less-than-ideal. Unfortunately, the CHSRA have set the design parameters in concrete, and that limits the design options. But given what they had to work with, this is a positive step at least.
For example, CHSRA did not think about dedicated bike facilities in their grade-separation overcrossings. Whereas their overcrossings would have been designed with 10′ sidewalks and (in some cases) 7′ shoulders, Fresno planners propose 14′ space for bike and peds on all the overcrossings — basically a 14′ wide Class I bike facility.
Things get more interesting in the downtown area, where the street grid gets seriously disrupted. Here is their proposal (click to enlarge):
The big change is in the pedestrian bridge. CHSRA had an overcrossing that dead-ended into the station. Instead, Fresno would have the pedestrian overcrossing relocated to Tuolumne Street, providing a through connection over the tracks:
Tuolumne Street is a C3-designated (high-volume, one-way) street that currently serves as the NE-bound partner in the Stanislaus-Tuolumne one-way couplet. The CHSR 15% engineering drawings assume elimination of the Tuolumne overpass.
Re-use of the Tuolumne right-of-way for a pedestrian/bicycle access bridge is preferable to a mid-block pedestrian bridge that does not line up with the desired pathways of pedestrians and bicyclists, on the street grid. Circulation is most intuitive and convenient when it is organized in street rights-of-way, or in a way that reinforces the patterns established by a grid of rights-of-way. By creating starting and ending points at G and H Street, the new pedestrian bridge would increase connectivity, and allow restoration of normal frontage for Tuolumne Street between Broadway and F street (which is currently occupied by the approach to the existing bridge).
Recommendations: re-align the proposed pedestrian bridge in the Tuolumne right-of-way and provide vertical connection at H and G streets to expose more commercial frontage.
The next major change is to increase the opportunities for sidewalks and ground-level retail near the station. Unfortunately, I fear they will be thwarted by CHSRA mentality of isolating stations away from streets.
Finally, there is the problem of those tunnel-like undercrossings. How to make them more inviting for bikes and peds? And how to reclaim valuable street frontage for retail?
So what’s not to like? Well, there is still a problem with getting from street level to the platform. The CHSRA has deliberately complicated that trip, with fare gates, parking lots, and the like. And the secure bike parking is still lacking.
Because of the time-limits on the stimulus funds (and the election), the CHSRA is rushing to get this project out to bid. That is too bad — if Fresno had more time to press these issues, they might have actually gotten a decent design.