SR99 business owners in Live Oak had many questions and concerns at the Streetscape Project meeting held in City Hall August 30, 2017.The vast amount of truck traffic was discussed with Mayor Jason Banks stating, "I would think we wouldn't be having 18 wheelers going on 99 when they can use Larkin."
Parallel parking on the highway was another lengthy discussion with business owner Linda Lang asking how cars can parallel park with no u-turns allowed, noting that the cars will have to go around a block to come back to park.
Students walking to and from school crossing the highway is a major concern and Mayor Banks remarked on the very dark early evening hours when children need to get home from the schools, parks and visiting friends.
"The crosswalks need to have blinding light so that the children are seen," he stated.
Some areas in the plan will be flexible for planning such as landscaping but those attending were not in favor of a center divider with trees. Mayor Banks stated, "The drivers cannot to see pedestrians crossing until they step out in front of the vehicle's path. I want to be very clear on that."
Lang had asked that a video be shown with different scenarios for landscaping either down the center of the highway or on the sides but was told the City was not set up for viewing videos.
"I was hoping we could look at the project together on slides but I was told that was not possible either," Lang stated.
"I am stunned to think that Live Oak is using that funding where businesses are a best an after thought, created for pedestrians and bicycles.
"I have been a strong proponent of the project with so much good in it with lighting and drainage. The design might be the death of the majority of the businesses on the highway. I wonder if the town is willing to give up on their businesses to have the plan?" Lang asked.
Insurance agent Michael Eastridge stated, "It sounds like you are trying to close us down so you can bring new businesses in."
Lang asked those in attendance, "Would you feel safe using parallel parking and getting out of your car into traffic?"
Lang pointed out that there are no people pictured in the project visuals getting out of their vehicles on the driver's side, only the passenger.
"When I was visited by five or six people about this project I expressed my concerns. I asked them to go outside with me and see how comfortable they would feel. Nobody would do that with me," she stated.
Management Analyst Alison Schmidt explained that the traffic is now traveling at 45 miles per hour but once the project is done they will be traveling 25 miles per hour. "It will be a completely different picture," she said.
One area that will not be up for discussion - parallel parking.
John Ballentyne of Cal Trans told those in attendance, "By all means, we won't allow traffic backing into traffic.
Betty Tica and Bob Woten, both Highway 99 restaurant owners are concerned for the parking spaces they will lose in the front of their restaurants.
"I don't want trees in front of my business," Tica stated with Mayor Banks adding, "It's going to create a situation. Businesses will have to get taller and taller signs to be seen. The lower monuments will be useless, won't be able to see.
"Is that giving us the small town feel with business signs 20 to 30 feet up in the air?" he asked.
"That feels like Las Vegas or Reno. It's my job to point it out."
Taisha and Richard Campbell expressed the danger of a center median by pointing out that 18 wheelers are hauling fruit and nuts and they have to be given room to get their trucks through town to get through parallel parking.
"I've been people try to parallel park. It's dangerous," Taisha noted. Richard Campbell explained a center median would be dangerous for kids to cross to go to school and home.
"In August, September and October the farmers are sharing the roads with the people. Trucks are a lot wider. You have to consider how wide the trucks you and give them room. They need braking room and room to whip. What kind of whip is needed? It's hard to determine," Taisha pointed out.
"You are playing with fire trying to do parallel parking with trucks. Cal Trans needs to accept that. Truck traffic vs car traffic with a trestle located not too far from here. Lucky nobody killed," Richard said.
The SR99 Streetscape Plan calls for four lanes which means those parking cars will be that much closer to the vehicles traveling alongside them.
The City will hold another Ad-Hoc Committee meeting on Thursday, September 14 at 4 p.m., at Live Oak City Hall. The public is invited to attend.
Besides Ballentyne, Sung Moon of the California Department of Transportation also attended and answered questions. Yuba County Supervisor Mary Jane Greigo attended and asked questions of Cal Trans.