City Beat

Tulare Street in downtown Fresno is nice -- if you walk

The Fresno City Council on Thursday approved a wish list for transportation projects. The feds will decide which projects get the OK. Nothing is guaranteed.

One of the wishes caught my attention: Traffic lights on Tulare Street at N Street.

This intersection has the backside of Fresno Unified School District headquarters on the northwest corner, the backside of the county library's main branch on the northeast corner, offices on the southeast corner and the Maubridge Building (once home to the Redevelopment Agency) on the southwest corner.

I walk by this corner all the time on my trips to and from City Hall.

Let's say you live in west Fresno and you want to drive on Tulare Street to the donut shop near Divisadero. And let's say the Tulare/N intersection gets stop lights.

Your journey could look like this:

1.) Red light at Tulare/E Street. Wait.

2.) Red light at Tulare/F Street. Wait.

3.) Red light at Tulare/G Street. Wait.

4.) 125-car freight train passes on Union Pacific tracks. Wait.

5.) Red light at Tulare/H Street. Wait.

6.) Crowd crosses at Fulton Mall. Wait.

7.) Red light at Tulare/Van Ness Avenue. Wait.

8.) No lights at Tulare/L Street. Barrel through.

9.) Red light at Tulare/M Street. Wait.

10.) Red light at Tulare/N Street. Wait.

11.) Red light at Tulare/O Street. Wait.

12.) Red light at Tulare/P Street. Wait.

13.) 125-car freight train passes on Burlington Northern-Santa Fe tracks. Wait.

14.) Red light at Tulare/R Street. Wait.

You've gone about a mile. You've stopped 13 times. You've lost your appetite.

A motorist faces the same dilemma heading the other direction.

I chatted with Public Works Assistant Director Scott Mozier after the council vote. He said the Tulare/N intersection gets heavy foot traffic. Stop lights are a good idea, he said.

Mozier said the city has already sought funding for stop lights at Tulare/L, but without success. He said the city still wants stop lights there.

Tulare/N and Tulare/L would make it 14 out of 14.

Mozier said traffic-signal synchronization will keep cars moving along nicely.

I'd like to have a dime for every time I've seen westbound cars on Tulare, trying to turn north on Van Ness on a green light, get stacked up six or eight-deep because pedestrians crossing Van Ness just shuffle along at about one-mile-an-hour.

It doesn't happen quite as often, but westbound cars on Tulare also get stacked up at M as slow-poke cars try to get into that funky parking lot on the south side of the county Hall of Records.

People wonder why I prefer to walk in downtown Fresno. Tulare Street between E and R streets is why.