Walnut Creek "mobility" gripe No. 1: Mt. Diablo Boulevard holiday shopping traffic

This photo was snapped while I was stuck in traffic along Mt. Diablo Boulevard late this afternoon. There was the slow crawl from west of California Boulevard to Main Street and beyond…

Okay, I really shouldn’t moan about the traffic.

Isn’t all this traffic, in some ways, a good thing?

It may mean that people are crowding into downtown Walnut Creek, which is, last I heard, still one of the leading retail destinations in the United States. (That is, according to some of those shopping center/retail reports I occassionaly come across.)

People come to Walnut Creek to browse the stores, buy stuff, eat out, and ultimately–our city and business leaders hope–spend $$$.

Would it be better if our main thoroughfares were deserted this time of year?

I guess not…

It will be interesting to see the retail numbers for the final quarter of 2009. Judging by my various recent excursions downtown, including this afternoon’s traffic jam, people are crowding into downtown Walnut Creek this holiday season. And, presumably, they are spending money. But are they spending like it’s 2006, or are they spending like the sad, depressed Christmas season of 2008? Are they being extravagent? Or, are they being thrifty?

It will, indeed, be interesting to see those numbers…

17 thoughts on “Walnut Creek "mobility" gripe No. 1: Mt. Diablo Boulevard holiday shopping traffic

  1. I saw that problem going east on Mt. Diablo. I turned left onto California and went down to Civic to go east. That seemed to work pretty well.

    Gotta react to th esituation this time of year. Sometimes there is no choice. That's when I put on my Santa hat and smile at everyone.


  2. Of course east on Mt. Diablo is gonna be tough this week. Why not park in the Olympia theater garage, or the Lark creek garage? Both within a block or 2 and easy to walk around from there.

    If a few more of us would do that, the congestion would ease…


  3. The problem on Mt. Diablo is the now unnecessary pedestrian crossing from the end of Broadway Plaza (the road) over to the Pottery Barn building. Pedestrians can stop the traffic for 5 -10 minutes at a time and make cars wait through multiple cycles of the light at Mt. Diablo and Main.

    That crossing was a great idea to get people to cross the street and head downtown back before Pottery Barn/Williams Sonoma/Starbucks existed but at this point it needs to be shut down. People would willingly walk down to 1 corner or the other to get across the street and not having them arbitrarily stop traffic would mean the timing on the lights could work.


  4. Anon 9:35:
    There's no way that you have to wait 5-10 minutes!
    If you do, call the police dispatch line at 925-935-6400.
    Personally, I think you are just trying to cause trouble. I have been through there many times lately with no problem.


  5. Traffic has been a problem in Walnut Creek for many years. Back in the early 90s we also had massive traffic jams because of the 680/24 interchange construction. Cars would drive through Walnut Creek just to avoid the freeway. South Main Street was packed with traffic whenever the freeway was slow. There was no South Broadway extension at that time so all of the traffic used South Main Street.

    Walnut Creek is lucky to have such a bustling downtown that brings in so much business. Other cities look like ghost towns and are suffering from lack of tax revenue. Vallejo went bankrupt and they are getting rid of police officers. People are getting burglarized and the police won't show up until hours later. Walnut Creek fortunately is no where near that level of financial difficulty.


  6. 11:29

    Have you been reading the newspaper reports about the state of the financial mess in Walnut Creek or are you hiding under a rock waiting for the sky not to fall? Spending down reserves and overspending on several capital improvement projects in recent years along with a sluggish economy has produced huge budget deficits now and projected to be in the next few years. Cutbacks in all city departments, cuts in salaries, (even the council), leaving job vacancies unfilled is just a drop in the bucket compared to what this city needs to get back on its feet.

    Freeway construction congestion in the downtown area had an end in sight….the current congestion problem in the core area is not so easily solved and may never be solved as long as developers keep receiving favorable nods from the city council regarding building.

    A thriving downtown is nice but doesn't necessarily add to the pleasure and convenience of living here. It does bring certain problems such as traffic congestion which so far the city council has been unable to address in an intelligent manner.

    To compare Vallejo to Walnut Creek is very unfair. Vallejo has had problems for years because of no large business district and also the loss of the shipyard. We cause our own problems and lets hope that our electeds quickly come up with some viable solutions.


  7. I'll add disdain for that crosswalk from Nordstrom over to Il Fornaio. If the city could add red or green 'stop or go' lights for pedestrians to follow, the problem of vehicle traffic backing up as staggered caravans of pedestrians enter the crosswalk and back the vehicles up could be avoided. Too many times a vehicle waits at the crosswalk while the light in front of them at Mt. Diablo/Broadway is green and clear of traffic– only to back traffic up into the Mt. Diablo/Main Street intersection. I know folks will say 'don't drive there' but remember, for those of us that live in the Homestead area, that's 'the' route to the grocery store after you exit the freeway on that side of town.


  8. “Personally, I think you are just trying to cause trouble. I have been through there many times lately with no problem.”

    Leaving a blog comment can cause trouble? Who knew!!!??


  9. 9:14 and 9:47….You know darned well that if you are not an “innie” in Walnut Creek, you are not allowed to have or voice an opinion on anything involving the city. Funny enough, “they” dpn't even trust you when you agree with them! Can't win……

    I too HATE the “blinking” crosswalk on Mt.Diablo and have often wondered what hoops the property owners on the north side had to jump through to have it placed there when the BofA was downsized and the whole block rebuilt. In fact, that entire block irritates me…..the “blinking” crosswalk and the fact that all of the stores always have have their oversized doors wide open, summer and winter. Seems kind of stupid to have traffic jams and wasted energy and then we can't burn our fireplaces anytime we wish. Go figure…….


  10. Hey 12:35….you must be the one we almost hit the other night. Stepped into the sidewalk without using the blinking lights and we almost hit you. I suspect you used the restroom before you had that drink.


  11. Up3rd is absolutely right about that blinking intersection, the issue is that pedestrians don't use common sense and charge right out while the light is green. It seems like common sense and basic courtesy to me…


  12. My most favorite people who use the blinking crosswalk are the ones who may or may not push the button, then step into the street without looking either direction, all the while talking on their cell phones. A great example of multi-tasking.


  13. December 21, 2009 9:56 PM

    Call the PD dispatch and let them know that people are crossing the street?? what a great idea…you should call them and tell them that there are blog comments that you disagree with. But i sense the PD would think you are just trying to cause trouble.


  14. Anon 2:12,

    I agree that the cell phone talkers/pedistrians are obnoxious but even more frightening are the mothers who use their babies in strollers to run interference for them!


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