New Arena, New Traffic Problems

Poppy is on board!In today’s Bee, writer Tony Bizjak reports on a number of traffic concerns from folks in-the-know concerning the new Cal Expo arena plans.  The piece pretty fairly andd succinctly addresses the concerns of a number of agencies, groups, and individuals, as well as putting forth a fledgling solution, even at this early stage:

Bartosik and other area business officials, in fact, already have been studying a potential traffic reducer — a streetcar that would run on tracks on or off the street.  It could bring people into the area from a nearby light-rail station, looping them to the Cal Expo gates and the Arden Fair front entrance.

Amazingly enough, not one of the so-called experts mentioned the futuristically fantastic solution staring them right in the face.  It’s a solution so singular it only needs one track, so simple it’s already been built, so elegant it only takes one word to express it: Monorail!  (From now on, any mention of the Monorail! will use a capitalized “M” and an exclamation point.)

It’s time to stop thinking in the now and start thinking in the 1960’s.  Monorail technology is here to stay.  The tracks are already laid throughout Cal Expo and can be expanded with a little concrete and a whole lot of knowhow.  I am declaring on this here forum that I am fully behind the Sacramento Monorail! Expansion Project (SMEP) which will take the exisiting Cal Expo Monorail! and extend it to three satellite parking areas, the Railyards, the Longview Lightrail station, and Sac State.  Since the Monorail! runs 100% on magnets it’s great for the environment.  (I think I’m solid on the engineering here, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)  Before too long (2010?), the Monorail! will be able to fly, which will greatly expand its regional significance, but, for the time being, the Monorail! is simply the best, cleanest, and most “put Sacramento on the map” choice that we have in front of us.  I’m on board, Poppy is on board, you should be on board to.  Write to your city planners that they need to get on board the Monorail! and support SMEP.  It’s about time for a single rail solution.

23 thoughts on “New Arena, New Traffic Problems”

  1. A ha. Mr. Olsen, so good of you to drop by. As a new Seattle resident you can tell us how well the Seattle Monorail! works.
    And I considered SM!EP as the acronym, but it looked too much like some sort of theoretical mathematics equation. Thanks for noticing though.


  2. The Seattle Monorail is a silly little tourist attraction that registers about a zero on the practical use scale.

    It runs from near the Space Needle to a downtown shopping mall. It might have been a stupid idea that somebody came up with to find a way to flush money down the toilet and to add a further space-age sheen to the heavily spaceneedle-ridden urban landscape, but it might also have just been a humble beginning point to a bigger project that might actually have some practical value.

    I mean, it’s barely over a mile long, and goes from the Seattle Center (a clot of touristy stuff that locals go to when they first move here and try to forget) and a shopping mall. There are already bus routes (and pretty convenient ones, too) that run between the two destinations. The monorail here clearly is not for Seattle, it’s for people visiting Seattle. Honestly, I’m not sure if they even use it.

    I will say that, overall, Seattle has far better public transportation than Sacramento. At least more extensive. But well, we’re already a world-class city, so we don’t need to prove anything. We had Frasier. Sac’s got nothin’.

    I miss you guys, though.


  3. I am all for it. Can we extend one farther into east sac? Centrage could be turned into a parking lot and the SMEP could take people across the river.


  4. Why do I have the feeling I have entered an old Simpsons episode? Joking aside, I don’t see why a monorail should not be considered if they are going to be looking at installing lightrail tracks anyway. It doesn’t make for a snappy acronym but how about Monorail Traffic Calming Solution That’s Better Than Half-Street Closures?


  5. Not monorail, and not light rail…streetcar!


    Streetcar lines, like the ones in Portland (f’rinstance) cost one-third as much as light rail. They’re also far better at interacting with street traffic: streetcars are around 40 feet long and operate at traffic speeds, unlike light rail which is 80-320 feet long and can operate at up to freeway speeds. Unlike a monorail, which normally requires an elevated above-grade location, streetcars run on the street and can share the right of way with cars.

    Think about it: You’re parked at Arden Fair Mall so you can get your latest goth supplies at Hot Topic. You decide you want to catch “Underworld 3” but it’s playing down at Cinedomes instead of the Arden Fair theaters. Rather than get back in your car and drive over to the theater and re-park, you hop the streetcar on Arden and get off right as the streetcar turns around at Expo and Hurley near the domes. After the movie, you have a bad case of consumption and arsenic poisoning from all the white makeup you use because you’re a goth, so you hop back on the streetcar to Kaiser for a blood transfusion. Finally, you hop back on the streetcar to take you back to the Arden Fair parking lot area so you can drive your hearse back home.

    The nice thing about a streetcar loop in that vicinity is that it turns existing destinations, both occasional ones like Cal Expo and regular ones like the mall, various shopping centers and Kaiser, from places normally not within easy walking distance of each other.

    Centrage ain’t gonna happen.


  6. Alright, I hear what you’re saying. If you could come up with a way for the streetcars to run on just one rail, you might have the support of the SMEP exploratory committee. Oh, and you have to let Poppy drive the Monostreetrailcar! at least one shift per week. We can hash out the rest of the details behind closed doors.


  7. Well, they have two rails, but one wire! Does that count?

    Maybe we need to run streetcars down K Street through Midtown’s burgeoning nightclub district. We could call it the “Man-o-rail!”


  8. -and there’d be Man Ray photos decorating the walls, and everyone would be reading Thomas Mann, and a Portuguese Man o War would be driving, and we’d all be singing Barry Man-ilow’s Man-dy. That would be awesome. I like where you’re going with this.


  9. I realize that this may offend some sports fans, but there is not actually any data that having the Kings here has generated more money than they’ve cost. Significant infrastructure costs are not going to be paid for by Kings management, the NBA or anyone else.

    Personally, I think we’d be much more of a ‘world class’ city if we just gave up this childish fantasy of a sports team and really tried to manage, contain and funnel growth and income into where it would benefit the city and county most.


  10. I like streetcars, but if its only utility is moving people from a light rail station to CalExpo, it won’t do anything to ease traffic. They can’t run enough cars enough times to do it without it causing its own set of traffic problems.

    Frankly, the fact that they’re talking about a spur to move people from a godforsaken light rail station to a place where people actually congregate just continues to prove my point that Sac’s light rail planners weren’t playing with a full deck.

    I also agree with jlt, a sports team does not a world class city make. I’d love for the Kings to stay, and I’m intrigued by the Cal Expo idea (no matter where they put a stadium, traffic will be an issue), but in the end, we can be a world class city without a team. Or we can talk about how much better it is to see a Rivercats game than any major league game.


  11. They aren’t talking about a light rail spur: streetcars are a lot smaller than LRVs. And the arena isn’t its only utility: the idea is to provide transit to a wide variety of areas where people go, and where people park. A side effect is to turn that Godforsaken light rail station into a place where people go in its own right: there are plans for a transit-oriented residential housing thingus (like the one at Folsom and 65th) on top of most of the “park & ride” lot.


  12. Cal Expo is a easy jaunt on the bike trail. Can’t we convince 18k to ride there bikes to the game?


  13. Can we convince 1000 bike riders to cycle to games? And another 2000-3000 to take a streetcar, assuming of course that one is provided? Can we convince 1000 people to buy into a midrise condo tower that is walking distance from the arena, shopping, and public transit to get to work? Can we convince 1000 people to ride to the game with their buddy instead of taking their own car?

    The idea is not to mitigate 100% of the traffic that an arena would generate–the idea is to provide enough options, and support those options, and make them practical for people to choose. The bad-news part of this is that traffic will get at least somewhat worse, and part of what encourages people to try other alternatives is bad traffic.


  14. People only choose when they are required to. If there is plenty of parking, they’ll pay to park rather than take the cheaper streetcar. Just as widening highways creates more traffic in the long run, more parking will make more people drive to the game.

    The only way to “encourage” alternate transportation is to make parking difficult and at the same time have other options available. Just making the options available by themselves will be a huge waste of resources, as other similar urban & suburban arena sitings have shown.


  15. ^^^ that’s what has me wondering for what reason everyone is screaming and hollering about traffic concerns in this proposal. Do “they” want more streets and/or wider streets? Or do they want to send a message that an arena is not wanted at all?

    I have a feeling that by cutting the parking, the above logic would be lost on most. It seems that the general public doesn’t view restriction as encouragement.


  16. TD raises a darn excellent point. Do they oppose the traffic or the arena?

    jlt: Technically, if someone is required to do something, it isn’t a choice anymore. Reducing parking works if there are alternatives provided, rather than simply not including enough parking. Making the options more cost-effective means making them useful for things other than the arena.


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  18. I’ve been to Seattle seven times in the last seven years an I love the monorail there. From the downtown and all it has to offer, to the Seattle Center and the lower Queen Anne, a very cool area, for what, $1.50? In 90 seconds? Love it love it love it.

    I vote Monorail!


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