In late August 2012, the Bridgeport community gathered for the Main Street Revitalization Design Fair, a series of intensive, participatory workshops to discuss the problems and possibilities of US 395 as it passes through town. Participation was outstanding, with nearly 80 residents of this small, rural community attending the final session. Spirited discussions resulted in an overwhelming consensus to reduce the number of traffic lanes from five to three, and support for other ideas such as bike lanes, back-in angled parking, a colored center turn lane, gateway monuments, and trees and landscaping.
Two short months later, based on the strong community engagement and consensus, a new striping design including three traffic lanes, back-in angled parking, and bike lanes was painted at low cost as part of a pavement overlay project. The "conceptual striping plan" at the bottom of the page provides a basic overview of the design.
Back-in angled parking is currently considered the safest way to park, as it consists of only the first step of parallel parking, directs pedestrians exiting a car toward the curb, places people accessing the trunk on the sidewalk, and allows the driver to pull into traffic flow easily. However, because it is unusual, drivers often park head-in, creating a very difficult and dangerous exit manuever. To fix this problem, the RPAC and staff fabricated a design and stenciled "BACK-IN ONLY" on the curb faces with Caltrans' approval. Compliance was almost instantaneous, and the incorrectly parked car is now a rarity!
Improvements are continuing, with the completion of the public School Street Plaza at the historic Courthouse, complete with benches, trash cans, decorative lighting, and hanging flower baskets. Several businesses have also inquired about or completed facade improvements based on the "Bridgeport Design Idea Book," which was designed to assist property owners with cost-effective improvement ideas.
Projects currently under development or seeking funding include a permanent bulb-out (or curb extension) and pedestrian-activated crossing lights at School Street, decorative street lights, a banner system across the highway, the completion of sidewalk segments, and sidewalk landscaping.
Public, private and community resources are being pooled to make these projects happen, and a renewed sense of pride and optimism is continuing to grow in the community. With the partnerships and collaboration built during this project, more improvements are still to come!
Hosted by the Bridgeport Valley Regional Planning Advisory Committee and in collaboration with Caltrans District 9, the Design Fair events were held August 23-28, 2012, and consisted of an opening workshop; walking tour and design workshop; Board of Supervisors workshop; a closing presentation of initial recommendations; and focus groups with main street business owners, the Spanish-speaking community, public works and safety providers, and potential interagency visitor center partners. Community participation was impressive and key to implementing projects quickly and effectively.
The Design Team consists of nationally-recognized walkabilty expert Dan Burden, the Local Government Commission, a traffic engineer from Nelson/Nygaard, Opticos design and architecture firm, and an economist, supported by Mono County Community Development Department staff. The purpose of the Design Team was to first facilitate and listen to the public, and then distill a common vision and design solution.
The project is funded through a Caltrans Community-Based Transportation Planning Grant. For more information, contact Wendy Sugimura at 760.924.1814 or wsugimura [at] mono [dot] ca [dot] gov (wsugimura [at] mono [dot] ca [dot] gov).
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