The Safe Mobility Santa Ana Plan was released earlier this month with very little fanfare, yet it may be the planning document that will possibly have the biggest impact on the city’s streets for years to come.
The plan identifies 42 high-priority projects–37 corridors and five intersections–that would take an estimated $40 million to complete.
But most compelling is the language in the plan that hints at a culture shift in the city away from motorist convenience and towards a focus on pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
Current planning in the city relies on regional guidance as laid out in the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Master Plan of Arterial Highways (MPAH). Cities are supposed to make sure their plans are consistent with the MPAH, or risk losing local sales tax revenues. But the new plan boldly claims:
With a focus on safety, many of the recommendations in the Safe Mobility Plan are not consistent with the current MPAH.
And that’s okay with the city. Instead of focusing on vehicles, as the MPAH does, the Safe Mobility Santa Ana Plan will either reclassify streets to align better with bicycle and pedestrian safety, or remove them from the MPAH system.
Talk about whoa. While previous active transportation projects have requested that roads be reclassified in the MPAH so as to redesign them, this may be the first city document to outwardly proclaim it plans to do so routinely.
The City’s main arterial streets will see much of this change, as they have been the ones identified as having the most collisions. Some notable projects:
- 17th Street, currently six travel lanes, would be narrowed to four lanes and add an eight-foot protected bike lane.
- First Street, currently six travel lanes, would be narrowed to four lanes, add a seven-foot protected bike lane and add median refuge islands at two intersections.
- The contentious Warner Avenue Project–about which we’ve written in a prior posting–would include a widened sidewalk on the north side of the street, four ten-foot travel lanes, and a five-foot-wide bike lane.
The city’s Public Works Agency was in charge of completing the plan. I sat down with Fred Mousavipour, Public Works’ executive director, and Cory Wilkerson, the Agency’s active transportation coordinator to go over the details. The conversation that follows was edited slightly for clarity and length.