Friday, May 20, 2016

Is this new park the worst in Fresno?

A couple of months ago I went to visit Northwest Fresno to see the new Tesla Supercharger. It's a part of town I rarely go to, so I made the effort to hit a few other spots and see the progress on bicycle trails and the like in the area.

I stopped by point 1 on the map below to see if there had been any progress on the Veteran's Boulevard Trail, which was approved last July.



There wasn't. Looked the same as it did 10 years ago.

Returning to Herndon, I drove up the street and while waiting for the traffic signal, point 2 in the above map caught my eye.

A park. With a playground. Brand new.


Built adjacent to a regional expressway with a 60mph design speed (50mph posted), 6 lanes of through traffic, and 3 turn lanes at intersections (for a grand total of 9-10 lanes at intersections).

Unfortunately, Google Satellite Image is over a year outdated as this point, so you can't see the park or the new lanes, but you can see them taking shape.



Streetview caught the city hard at work widening away, which is not visible in the above image. The new park can be seen on the right.



One can never really have too many lanes.

The park itself is, well, it's a Fresno park. Plenty of dead grass (we're in a drought you know), modern, but boring play equipment, and trees that maybe in 20 years will provide shade.



I guess pleasant enough, except for the highway in the room.



Hard to miss.



Here's the crosswalk for the newly widened residential street. Yes, residential street. Note the yellow crosswalks, which mean this is a school zone.



The new housing development across the street is what prompted the addition of even more turn lanes.



What is interesting about this neighborhood is that access is completely blocked off except on Herndon. To the north, a private country club. To the east, a railroad. So there are only two ways in and out, shown in green.




That's not a huge surprise in Fresno. Some top tier circulation planning is at work.



However, the neighborhood was 90% developed before the new homes at the corner went in. Is the addition of those few homes really enough to warrant the addition of two new turning lanes at the intersection? I guess so.

But back to the park. Who would want to bring their kids here?



You don't have to know anything about health to know that diesel fumes from trucks and heavy traffic is not good for you or your family. And yes, Herndon eastbound will be widened in the next couple of years, to 3.5 lanes.

Here's a reminder of why this is bad:
Traffic-related air pollution is a main contributor to unhealthy ambient air quality, particularly in urban areas with high traffic volume. Within urban areas, traffic is a major source of local variability in air pollution levels, with the highest concentrations and risk of exposure occurring near roads. Motor vehicle emissions represent a complex mixture of criteria air pollutants, including carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM), as well as hydrocarbons that react with NOx and sunlight to form ground-level ozone. Individually, each of these pollutants is a known or suspected cause of adverse health effects (1–4). Taking into consideration the entire body of evidence on primary traffic emissions, a recent review determined that there is sufficient evidence of a causal association between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and asthma exacerbation and suggestive evidence of a causal association for onset of childhood asthma, nonasthma respiratory symptoms, impaired lung function, all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cardiovascular morbidity (5).
CDC
At least 8 percent of the more than 300,000 cases of childhood asthma in Los Angeles County can be attributed to traffic-related pollution at homes within 75 meters of a busy roadway. A new study published online September 24 in Environmental Health Perspectives also indicates that previous estimates of childhood asthma exacerbation related to air pollution may have underestimated the true burden of exposure on society. The research focused on the Los Angeles basin.
Futurity.org

Maybe we shouldn't be exacerbating the problem by building new parks just steps away from our regional expressway. Fresno already has some of the worst air in the country. Do we have to rub it in by encouraging the kids to play here? 

There's a fence so kids won't run into traffic, but that fence doesn't stop the bad air. Those trees aren't doing so much either.





So how do you make this park even worse? You throw in some more traffic danger.

This is the whole park.



Some genius decided the best thing to do was to have the park extend across the roadway, at a curve built for fast speeds and low visibility (especially if people parallel park at the corner).

I mean, the "park" on the other side isn't exactly a prize the kids will be rushing to.


But why.

Why?

Oh, and the area east of the playground?

A true field of dreams. Where your soccer ball can either bounce off the high voltage electricity tower or meander off onto the highway.



I hope when the kids are having fun they keep their shoes on.

But really, why are we building this in 2016?




On the plus side, they build a new section of the Herndon bicycle trail as part of the housing development. Not exactly a fun recreational route (6 lanes of high speed traffic remember), but a vital connection for bicycle commuters who would rather not share the lane with 60mph traffic and have no other choice (remember the broken street network?)

Park on left, looking east.



Looking west


A bus stop, with a fence budget that was a tad too high...and no existing or planned bus service, looking west



The bus stop, looking east.


Not safe.



 One bollard is really more than enough.



The Herndon bike path is still a road to nowhere as many parts are missing, but one day it will be a decent route.

6 comments:

  1. i dont think its bad nor is it the worst. it helps fill in the patchy gaps of undeveloped nothing-ness that fresno has a lot of. what else would they have put in that spot? i believe since you taken those photos the area is much more finished. I pass by and a lot of the homes are almost up and if i recall the grass is actually green. the trails and road work also cleaned up the area. as for why we are building this in 2016? again what else should they put there? would it really make a difference given the already questionable air quality in fresno that this park is in this location. let alone there is a school right across perhaps in the same environment for the kids when they are playing outside for recess as those kids who would play at this park.

    Adding this park perhaps also contributed to something positive
    http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article79974722.html

    im sure this park is a combination plan by the builder of that community, Mccaffrey homes. That section where that park is, is part of the bigger community plan

    The part where you mentioned a genius decided to extend the park across the road to that plain corner patch of grass... again that might be part of the community. The builder owns that land. they couldve been greedy and built another home there but decided to keep it green and a space for the residents to do whatever on it.

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    1. They should have placed the construction there and the park away from Herndon.

      " The builder owns that land. they couldve been greedy and built another home there but decided to keep it green and a space for the residents to do whatever on it. "

      No, the builder is required to provide a certain amount of open space. They didnt do it because theyre wonderful people. However, as you can tell from the useless nature and poor position, the only mandate is that it exists, not that it be any good.

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    2. I get what your saying. Your saying they should've put the park inside put the construction of the homes where the park currently sits? So from herndon you wouldn't even notice there is a park there because a home and concrete fence would be covering it. I think they may have designed it this way to make it a "public" park. Although the other side of the community is gated, the part where the park resides is not gated. Maybe strenghtening the fact they want the park to be seen and used by the public? Yes I do agree it would be safer if the configuration was homes lined along herndon and park inside.

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    3. Yes exactly. Maybe a trail directly to the herndon trail, but the park itself shielded from traffic.

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  2. You mention Fresno traffic engineering being a danger to cyclist, it is, but it seems that Florida, not California is the most dangerous state for cyclists with the top three cities, Maimi,Orlando, and Tampa jostling for the top three.

    http://www.care2.com/greenliving/americas-best-worst-bike-friendly-cities.html

    I wanted to find out, though, could there be a correlation between unsafe for cyclists and unsafe for cars? And well, the most dangerous places to be driving a car oddly happen to be Orlando, Maimi, and Tampa....

    http://www.dangerousroads.org/north-america/usa/2421-top-10-safest-a-most-dangerous-cities-to-drive-in-the-usa.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People tend to ignore Florida numbers because of all the old people + international tourists + american bad design

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