The Carlson Corridor — where Carlson Drive intersects with H & J streets in East Sacramento — is a regional crossroads that connects the East Sacramento and River Park neighborhoods, the Sacramento State University campus, and the American River, and serves as a main route between the Central City and neighborhoods east of the river along Fair Oaks Blvd.
It serves neighborhood and high-volume commute traffic, bus transit lines, and emergency vehicles heading to four nearby hospitals, as well as bike traffic to and from the American River Parkway.
In the past three years, three people have died in vehicle collisions along the Carlson Corridor: bike-rider Scott Irwin at Carlson and H on May 2, 2010, bike-rider Arlene Sasse at Carlson and J on April 1, 2011, and driver Denis Tomassetti at Carlson and H on April 3, 2013.
The Carlson Corridor is busy, complicated and confusing and this rash of deaths shows that it’s hazardous too — so hazardous that the family of Scott Irwin is suing the City of Sacramento over his death.
Many factors make the Carlson Corridor risky for bike-riders, pedestrians and drivers:
- heavy vehicle traffic in all directions
- high vehicle speeds on westbound H and J streets
- trees and tall shrubs that obscure sightlines where Carlson intersects with H and J
- the misplaced traffic signal on northbound Carlson just south of H
- the large, multi-lane intersection at Carlson and J
- disconnected, intermittent bike lanes and sidewalks from Sac State into River Park
- the multiple eastbound lanes and lack of directional signs on H at Carlson
To help save lives, we launched a campaign to fix the Carlson Corridor. Our goals are to protect bike-riders and pedestrians by making them more visible to drivers and reduce traffic speeds at the Carlson and H and Carlson and J intersections. We recommend two different approaches: an affordable “paint only” plan that uses lane striping to clarify paths of travel (but that does not address structural problems with the intersection) and a more ambitious “full improvement” plan that would redesign the intersections at H and J.
The City of Sacramento recently proposed a two-phase plan for fixing the Carlson Corridor with features that closely resembles SABA’s recommendations.
The first phase, dubbed “Option A,” includes buffered bike lanes, green bike lanes and high-visibility crosswalks to make bike-riders and pedestrians more visible along Carlson Dr. The city has funding to make these improvements, which could be completed in 3 to 6 months.
“Option B” would reconfigure the Carlson & H intersection to make traffic signals more visible to bike-riders and drivers, add bike boxes at the H and J intersections with Carlson, to help reduce conflicts between bikes and cars, and modify the right-turn lanes leading into and out of Sac State at J Street. The city will seek federal funding for this phase, which probably won’t be completed until next year at the soonest.
The draft plan does little to address the biggest hazard in the Carlson Corridor: excessive motor vehicle speeds along H and J. We’ll be working with our allies to make speed control a top priority.
Making the Carlson Corridor safer can’t happen soon enough. Every day thousands of people are at risk by traveling through this area. Learn more about our campaign and how you can help at our Carlson Corridor website.