A dangerous roadway

The city needs to make infrastructure improvements to protect its vulnerable citizens

When it comes to installing safety features on public land, it often seems like it takes a tragedy to make that happen. We hope that’s not the case for the section of road in front of the Work Training Center in Chico.

That nonprofit workplace—which serves and employs local individuals with physical and developmental disabilities—is smack dab in the middle of Fair Street, a four-lane stretch that runs between East 20th Street and East Park Avenue. The street is a notorious cut-through, and because of that, vehicles tend to speed, posing a danger to the WTC’s staff members and clients, who go back and forth between its facilities on either side.

Work Training Center has been at that location since the ’70s, back when Chico was smaller, sleepier, and cars didn’t fly down the street at speeds well in excess of the 35 mph limit. Today, those at the WTC have two choices for crossing the road: walking about a quarter mile without contiguous sidewalks to one of the nearest stoplights or taking their chances and heading straight across the busy street.

Both options are unsafe, which is why the center has been advocating for a nearby crosswalk. Those requests, which go back several years, have fallen of deaf ears. But advocates have been ramping them up again recently (see Tom Gascoyne’s report on page 9).

Chico’s director of Public Works, Ruben Martinez, says a crosswalk in front of the center would create a false sense of security for those attempting to cross the street. Another option he floated is a three-way stop at 23rd and Fair streets, but considering the costs he mentioned, we have a feeling the city will bury it. Martinez says he’s invited the WTC to join a city committee that focuses on Americans with Disabilities issues. That’s a good start, but given this is not a new issue, it sounds a lot to us like passing the buck.

We’re not engineers, but it’s clear to us that Fair Street needs some sort of safety crossing, whether it’s a stop sign or one of those crosswalks with light features, such as the ones running along Nord Avenue that allow Chico State students to traverse that busy roadway. We know there are many other spots in town that could use help, too, but starting with one that protects a vulnerable population ought to be a priority.