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Big changes are under consideration for Park Marina Drive, although they involve a traffic transformation and not new land-use development for the time being.

The city of Redding held a community workshop Wednesday afternoon through a Zoom meeting where preliminary ideas were introduced to the make the busy roadway more bikeable and walkable.

The city has contracted with TJKM Transportation Consultants and PlaceWorks for help with the Park Marina Drive corridor study.

Here are six takeaways from the public discussion:

1. Park Marina Drive would go on a ‘diet’

The basic concept, called a “road diet,” is to switch Park Marina Drive from two vehicle travel lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction, keep the center turn lane. In essence, options would cut traffic flow in half.

The extra room allows for ways to expand and build new bike and pedestrian paths on each side to make the routes safe and comfortable, especially for families with children.

A significant addition would be a 12-foot-wide path that would go on the east side of the roadway toward the Sacramento River. Not exactly a water-hugging river walk, but close.

“It’s a very wide right-of-way. It’s all for vehicular traffic and the sidewalk is a little spotty. It’s been identified in previous plans for improvement,” said Shelby Nadin, an associate engineer for the city.

2. Roundabouts part of plan

Initial designs show two roundabouts as a way to slow traffic.

One roundabout would be at Village Drive and Olympus Avenue near the Aqua Golf. A second one would be at Park Marina and Athens Avenue. The one-lane roundabouts would include pedestrian and bicycle crossings.

“Roundabouts aren’t perfect but some good things about them are they do slow traffic down and whether you’re a biker or a (pedestrian) or a vehicle, you’re looking in one direction at once basically. So instead of trying to pull out and cross maybe three lanes of traffic, you’re looking at one lane at one time to get across the roadway or through or turning,” Nadin said.

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A view of Kutras Park between Washington Avenue and Park Marina Drive in Redding on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Photo: Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight)

3. Diverting traffic off Park Marina

One “super preliminary” idea, Nadin said, is to close a section of the drive between Washington Avenue and South Street, so that vehicles are routed along Washington Avenue west of Kutras Park before making it onto South Street.

The bypass would either close off that section of Park Marina to vehicles or only let buses through.

Nadin said the city has received requests in the past to hold events there next to the park and river.

“It could be used as more of a recreating area. We could have special events there. We could do a farmers market there — have it be a public-gathering place,” she said. “We’re throwing it out there to see how people felt about it.”

The route along Washington Avenue would include a traffic circle at its intersection with South Street.

4. Flood control not part of plan

Longtime Redding residents know the middle section of Park Marina Drive is prone to flooding when there’s heavy rain and more water has to be released from Shasta and Keswick dams into the Sacramento River.

The project just deals with the pavement between the curbs along with bicycle and pedestrian paths and doesn’t take flood control into account.

“At this time with this plan we aren’t really going to address that issue because this isn’t focused on development or the land use. It’s just the city right-of-way,” Nadin said.

5. Future development under discussion

Bruce Brubaker of PlaceWorks, the workshop’s moderator, said a participant in his breakout group was associated with the Kutras family, which has owned property on Park Marina Drive for years.

Cameron Middleton, a Realtor with House of Realty and vice chair of the Redding Planning Commission, said Thursday he was part of the online discussion and represents the family.

He said Thursday they want to cooperate with the city on the corridor project, preferably by working in concert with any future family proposals.

Middleton said leases and sub-leases that have been in place for generations are expiring at the end of the year for the family’s land on Park Marina Drive and they’re in a transition phase. The owner of the master lease is the McConnell Foundation, he said.

“We are certainly looking at putting in some new tenants, new potential projects, on some of the land on the property,” Middleton said. “A lot of the new uses we’d like to see are active uses like restaurants and recreation.”

Middleton said whenever any project proposals relating to Park Marina Drive come before the Planning Commission that he would recuse himself to avoid a conflict of interest.

“Ultimately, the (road) improvements should be sufficient for whatever development does happen in the near future, the far future,” Nadin said.

6. Other public concerns

Beyond flooding issues with portions of Park Marina Drive, workshop participants brought up these concerns:

  • Traffic bottlenecks to the north at the intersection of Park Marina and Sundial Bridge drives where there’s also on- and off-ramps to Highway 44. Traffic gets congested there when people get off work and events take place at the Redding Civic Auditorium. One person was concerned about single lanes of traffic backing up at the roundabouts.
  • The safety of pedestrians and bicyclists crossing through the roundabouts.
  • Would the city take private land for the project? The work would take place in the city’s right-of-way and homeowners wouldn’t lose any pieces of property, workshop organizers said.

Plan’s timeline

November 2020: Review preliminary corridor concepts. First community workshop held Wednesday, Nov. 18

November-December 2020: Develop alternatives

January 2021: Hold second community workshop to review alternatives

Spring 2021: Revise alternatives, prepare draft corridor plan

April 2021: Prepare final corridor plan

Source: City of Redding

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RELATED: A history of Park Marina and Redding’s Kutras family

Mike Chapman is a reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Follow him on Twitter @mikechapman_RS. Subscribe today!

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