Kevin Bewsey, capital program manager for the city of Elk Grove, told the City Council last week that progress continues on plans to improve the Old Town area.

Projects scheduled for the area are primarily directed toward economic development and public works improvements.

Railroad Street

Bewsey said that one of the projects in this area is the Railroad Street improvement project, which will reconstruct Railroad Street, south of Elk Grove Boulevard to the creek, as well as from Grove Street to the eastern end of the Old Town Plaza.

This project will address the lack of shoulders and sidewalks, will place existing overhead utilities underground, and will add two parking lots south of the Old Town Plaza. The lots will include landscaping.

D&S Development has partnered with the city in the efforts to revitalize Railroad Street.

Two Railroad Street properties, with historic, brick structures, were purchased by D&S.

Those buildings will be renovated for restaurant or entertainment-type uses. The company will also construct a building that will house apartments and ground floor retail.

Bewsey commented on plans for Railroad Street.

“(Railroad Street) will be much more improved than it is currently,” he said. “In addition to the transportation infrastructure (improvements), it will provide some utility infrastructure for D&S Development, as well as the Old Town Plaza area.”

A city staff report describes the Railroad Street and other Old Town improvements as “a catalyst for other developers to consider investing, and highlight(s) this district as a place for entertainment and dining.”

Construction along this street is anticipated to begin in the spring/summer of 2020.

Old Town Plaza

The city’s Old Town Plaza project is already in the works, with Phase 1 – the restroom building – having been completed in 2017.

The next phase of the project, which is fully funded in the city’s capital improvement program, includes the plaza entrance, walkways, bicycle parking, and seating and landscaping, adjacent to Elk Grove Boulevard.

It is anticipated that construction on this phase will begin during the spring/summer of 2020.

The third and final phase of the project will consist of a pavilion structure, storage and a lawn area.

Although this phase is not yet funded for construction, the city is considering ways to advance this work.

Bewsey summarized the Old Town Plaza project.

“That project will provide, generally speaking, a nice area for events, as well as for farmers’ markets for the Old Town area,” he said.

Old Town streetscape – Phase 2

Old Town’s streetscape project began in 2005 and was completed the following year.

That phase was performed along Elk Grove Boulevard, between the railroad tracks and School Street. The project increased the width of Elk Grove Boulevard from 44.7 feet to 60 feet, yet decreased its road space with the placement of a median between the road’s two lanes. In addition, traffic signals were installed at School Street.

The second phase of the streetscape project features improvements along Elk Grove Boulevard, between School Street and Waterman Road.

Included in the plans for this phase are a two-way left turn lane, a travel lane, and buffered bicycle lane in each direction, and frontage improvements on each side of the road.

Continuous sidewalks, landscape strips, bus shelters, and underground utilities are also features within this phase.

The current schedule calls for Phase 2 improvements to begin next summer, with the remaining construction to follow in 2021.

Bewsey noted that the underground utilities project will be the first work that will be performed during this phase.

Kent Street traffic signals proposal

Bewsey also addressed public complaints regarding difficulty for drivers turning left onto Elk Grove Boulevard from Kent Street.

“If you’re on Kent Street and you’re trying to make a left (turn), it essentially is stopped controlled and you have a very short two-way, left turn lane to turn into, and people are having a hard time making that left turn,” he said.

Bewsey added that during their intersection study, city staff found that Kent Street “does not operate well,” and recommended that traffic signals be added at that intersection at a cost of about $675,000.

Although traffic signals at the intersection of Kent Street and Elk Grove Boulevard are not warranted under current conditions, Bewsey said that this status will eventually change.

“With development that we anticipate, a signal is going to (be) warranted at Kent Street,” he said.

City staff also reviewed requests for traffic signals at Railroad Street and Elk Grove Boulevard, but found that they would not be feasible due to the intersection’s proximity to railroad tracks.

Council Member Steve Detrick expressed his support for traffic signals at Kent Street.

“I think the Kent Street option is a must for that part of the city, way overdue, and I support staff’s recommendation,” he said.

Council Member Darren Suen seconded him.

At that point, Jennifer Alves, assistant city attorney, mentioned that council member comments during the Sept. 11 meeting could not result in a final decision regarding this matter

“We’re not actually making a decision tonight on adding the light, because you don’t have the amended environmental document in front of you,” she said.

The council will later receive that document, and then review and vote on whether to approve or disapprove amended impacts.