Traffic questions go unanswered
There are major questions concerning Chico-area traffic, all of which should be answered before certain local projects are considered:
When or if the proposed Wal-Mart superstore is built at the existing Sunset Hills Golf Course, will the state approve and pay for a highway cloverleaf that should first be constructed, since all customers would certainly arrive and depart by vehicle? Traffic signals alone, regardless of number, cannot be expected to handle a huge in-and-out flow, especially at the end of a freeway that joins with a two-lane highway.
And who will pay for the large segments of The Esplanade and Highway 99 that should be widened? Isn’t it absurd to allow a development of this magnitude until these questions are first answered? The state does not have adequate funds, or any real concern, for such a project. (Note that these questions do not mention any benefits or drawbacks from a new Wal-Mart nor from the expansion of the existing store in Chico.)
When or if the proposed Eaton Road extension is built (a questionable attempt to re-route Highway 32 traffic through Chico), how will vehicle flow into the area where East and Manzanita avenues join be handled? What is the cost of such a section (and traffic signals) that includes the entrance into Wildwood Park and Upper Bidwell Park, plus Fire Station 5, the Elks Club and the Chico Racquet Club?
While Chico’s geography is (happily) dominated by Bidwell Park, the park is both an eastern border and a north-south barrier. The only north-south park crossing east of Mangrove Avenue and the freeway is the short segment of Manzanita Avenue between Wildwood and Centennial Avenues. How is traffic from and to Eaton Road and East Avenue expected to flow through this narrow and already-overwhelmed section of Manzanita, which joins an equally overburdened section that eventually meets and becomes Bruce Road? And shouldn’t a traffic signal be added where Chico Canyon Road meets Centennial?
Finally, without a single structure being built on Bidwell Ranch, and with no added vehicles, how can this section of Manzanita be widened unless a lengthy section of the park and many of its trees are removed, plus much of the Hooker Oak Recreation Area parking lot? And what is the cost to construct new entrances and exits and widen the existing bridges that cross the Lindo Channel and Big Chico Creek? Any development at Bidwell Ranch that may ever be proposed should first raise these questions.
These questions were posed years ago to a long-time council-member, who responded, "We’ve already been ducking this thing for years!" Anyone who might ever want to run for office in Chico again wouldn’t dream of trading a foot of Bidwell Park for a wider street.