Aerial view of the unimproved Carlson Corridor (top is north). J Street runs diagonally across the lower right corner. Carlson Drive runs north-south in the center of the photo.
The Carlson Corridor — where Carlson Drive intersects with H & J streets in East Sacramento — is the interface between the older traditional neighborhood grid of East Sacramento and newer suburban Sacramento east of the American River. It’s 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.
The streets in the Carlson Corridor serve 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.
Three people died in vehicle collisions along the Carlson Corridor in four years: bicyclists Scott Irwin at Carlson and H on May 2, 2010, and Arlene Sasse at Carlson and J on April 1, 2011, and motorist 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 and the driver who killed him both successfully sued 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
– a 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, with the goal of protecting people on bikes and pedestrians by making them more visible to drivers while also reducing traffic speeds at the Carlson and H and Carlson and J intersections. We recommended 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.
On Aug. 25, 2017, the City of Sacramento will celebrate the completion of the Carlson Drive improvements, which constitute about 90% of the improvements we recommended.
Green bike lane on westbound H St. at Carlson Dr.
The first phase, dubbed “Option A,” includes buffered bike lanes, green bike lanes and high-visibility crosswalks to make people on bikes and pedestrians more visible along Carlson Dr. As part of those improvements,a new signal light visible from northbound Carlson Dr. was added on the north side of H Street. Those improvements were completed in 2015.
“Option B” reconfigured the Carlson & H intersection to make traffic signals more visible to bicyclists and motorists, 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.
One goal remains unfulfilled: The City’s plan does little to address the excessive motor vehicle speeds along H and J, the biggest hazard in the Carlson Corridor. We’ll continue working with our allies to make speed control a top priority, for the safety of everyone who travels through this area.
Memorial to Arlene Sasse at Carlson Drive & J St.