Crazy in Suburbia: Yes, Council’s Wish to Squeeze Mt. Diablo Boulevard To Two Lanes Will Take Lots of Political Will

I also published a version of this column at Walnut Creek Patch, where you can always find more Walnut Creek community news.

City and business leaders will start looking at an idea to reduce one lane of traffic in either direction of Mt. Diablo Boulevard–with the idea of creating a business-boosting downtown thoroughfare that will be more pedestrian friendly and accommodate more outdoor restaurants and parking.

At a special study session Thursday, City Council members seemed excited about this new approach to the stretch of Mt. Diablo between California Boulevard and Broadway, according to a report in the Contra Costa Times.

“We are supportive of the thought,” the Times reported Mayor Sue Rainey as saying. “But there are a lot of people who will say ‘That’s how I get home at night.'”

A lot of people might also ask this question on a weekday afternoon: How am I going to get to Safeway? That’s the question I often ask when I get stuck behind cars at Olympia Place–because two blocks ahead pedestrians are pressing those stupid blinking lights that let them allow them to randomly stop traffic at the Mt. Diablo Boulevard’s Broadway Plaza crossing.

Damn, I say, why didn’t I stick to the Newell Avenue route? And, the most direct route home to my neighborhood on the west side of town is via Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

Council members stressed that the idea is in infancy and they acknowledged that it could make a lot of residents and business owners mad.

Yep, I bet it will. Hey, I was kind of mad when I heard the idea mentioned at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Still, maybe in the long term, we can all be trained, and we can all come to see that this idea is a good thing. I can see how it could reduce that four-lane divide between the two sides of town: the so-called “Mason-Dixon” line, in the words of the self-described destination guru that the Downtown Business Association hired to market the city.

Council member Kish Rajan said this idea enhances the goal of making Walnut Creek a “pedestrian paradise.”
Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Silva warned that taking away downtown’s “four-lane highway” must be done “carefully.” (Highway? Not during Christmas shopping time.)

And Gary Skrel says people may not understand the idea at first and that the city will have to have the “political will” to do it.

18 thoughts on “Crazy in Suburbia: Yes, Council’s Wish to Squeeze Mt. Diablo Boulevard To Two Lanes Will Take Lots of Political Will

  1. I often wonder what the WC council is smoking. Mt Diablo Blvd is bad enough with 4 lanes, squeezing it down to two is insane!

    I miss the old Walnut Creek of 30 years ago, back when it was a great little city.


  2. Oh, now…really? 30 years ago? 1980? Walnut Creek has only improved in 30 years. So many towns have gone down hill in as many years.

    I do remember the early 70's though, coming here from outside the area to cruise Main St. on a Friday or Sat. night. What a blast….

    I am all for closing Mt. Diablo, but not from California. Close it from Main st. to Broadway, only. Push the trafic down main st and give those shops some business. Make the street a real plaza packed with beauty and benches and outside cafes. The shops that are there are enough of a draw to bring folks in. Also, the parking behind and around that stretch would be enough. Maybe some small little shops that are fun. Make it interestng and get rid of the cars there in that half block. Amen.


  3. For anyone who says they want to choke traffic to enhance shopping, or make downtown more bike or pedestrian friendly, I can only say you must not live anywhere near where I do, in a neighborhood off walnut blvd. I dont know if any of the city council live in my part of town, I would guess not, This idea will be a nighmare for us to go to the grocery store. the traffic jams will probably ruin the shopping at broadway plaza to boot, most of the folks I see shopping there dont look like they would walk very far to spend their money. C'mon folks, just for once think of the residents who city government is supposed to serve as opposed to businesses that are supposed to be there only to enhance the quality of life for the residents


  4. Four out of five of the current City Council members live in the Ygnacio Valley area of town. The fifth, Ms. Silva lives out in the Tice Valley/outer Parkmead area.

    Therefore, NONE of the City Council members have to regularly use the Mt. Diablo corridor to have access to freeways and the downtown shopping areas.

    These five people think of downtown Walnut Creek as being the pretty little part of town that makes everyone happy with it's beauty and tax revenue.

    Remember that it was the Council who gave us the “il Fornaio” bottleneck because they didn't want people to have to walk 1/2 a block to wait at a light to cross the street.

    This pedestrian friendly attitude is getting out of hand.

    I just wish that the staff and Council would reveal ALL of their grand plans for downtown at one time rather than parceling them out to lessen the outrage from the residents of Walnut Creek. What's next?


  5. I posted this comment on WalnutCreek.Patch.Com over this issue:

    With regard to this most recent comment, yes, I think the reader raises the point that four out of five current city council members do NOT live close to downtown and don't have to deal with certain issues that arise from it.
    Maybe that needs to change.
    I'm in and out of downtown several times a day, either driving, walking or running. So I'm well aware of how things flow, or don't flow around downtown and at different times of the day, or on different days, or at different times of the year. Believe me, I plan my travels into downtown based on what I have learned.
    I don't know if the experience is different for people who live out in the Ygnacio/Northgate neighborhood?
    But downtown Walnut Creek is an extension of my neighborhood. It is My neighborhood.
    I generally think the city leaders are trying to put forth forward-thinking ideas about what to do with downtown–even though I could care less about ever shopping at Neiman Marcus….
    To suggest making serious traffic alterations around a thoroughfare of downtown, that a lot of us who live in neighborhoods around downtown rely on, well that is going to take a lot of thought and study.
    The idea gives me a big pause–unlike other ideas that have come forward from City Hall.
    It may be right in the long run …


  6. Does anyone know who is running for WC City Council this election? I know that Sue Rainey is retiring and Cindy Silva is running. Who else will be competing?


  7. Last week saw planning commissioner Kristina Lawson announce her candidacy. Another name being thrown around out there is David Powell who is also a planning commissioner. I have seen both of them at meetings. She's been on only about a year or so, and he's been on awhile longer.


  8. Why doesn't the city along with developers design walkways and paseos and courtyards that restaurants and shops can open to? Va de Vi is a perfect example. Also, Il Fornaio has outdoor dining that is somewhat protected from Mt. Diablo yet provides a wonderful dining experience.

    How will residents in the neighborhoods above downtown get to their homes? Newell Avenue, Homestead and Walnut off Ygnacio, Palmer off Rudgear? Can these neighborhoods sustain this extra traffic? It's a baaaaad idea to give up our streets to outdoor dining.


  9. Kristina Lawson wanted to run last year but was asked to wait so there would only be 2 viable candidates for 2 opening. As a reward she got a Planning Commission appointment. Doesn't she work for the Regalia law firm run by the spouse of former city council member Gwen Regalia ? The “chosen” continue to run the city.


  10. Looks like there won't even be an election at this point. There must be some sort of challenger to these two? Hello? Henick?


  11. I live in Northgate and I resolved my problems with downtown WC driving/parking problem by deciding not to go downtown anymore.


  12. “Political will”? “People may not understand the idea at first”? How come the electeds always think that the”people” are so darned ignorant and slow that they are not capable of understanding any “new” concept deemed necessary by staff and council? I am very disappointed in Mr. Skrel's low opinion of the people he is supposed to be representing.

    Mr. Rajan, please explain just whose “goal” it is to make Walnut Creek a “pedestrian paradise” and exactly what does that term mean?

    I, for one, am tired of arrogant elected official patting us on our heads like lap dogs assuring us that someday we too will understand life as they do.

    Once again we are being led down the garden path following the lead of highly paid consultants (who do not know nor have any interest in the heart and soul of our town) as to how our city should grow and prosper.
    And please remember that it is we, the taxpayers and residents, who have paid big buck for these grandiose reports even as we scrabble on the ground looking for every penny in an effort to “balance” the budget.


  13. That has to be the most retarded idea have ever heard. If passed, I will avoid those businesses out of spite.


  14. What are people who drive East on Mt. Diablo Blvd thinking when they see the light at Broadway change to Green at the same time someone decides to cross the street and the crosswalk lights turn on. You have to stop and sit there until the person(s) have crossed the street, while at the same time watching the light at Broadway change back from green to red.

    Sitting there I keep thinking why does the City of Walnut Creek allow people to stop traffic on Mt. Diablo so they can cross the street without having to wait. If this stupidity is one of the council's ways of favoring walkers over drivers, they probally are dumb enough to reduce Mt. Diablo Blvd to just one lane each way.

    Since most of the council live out in Ygnacio Valley perhaps they should first close one lane on Ygnacio Valley Road so they can experience first hand, what they expect drivers on Mt. Diablo Blvd to put up with.

    It's a scary thought having a city council that isn't smart enough to understand the traffic problems we already have. Can anyone tell me why drivers on Mt Diablo Blvd. have to stop as soon as someone wants to cross the street. Shouldn't it be the other way. The crossing lights won't come on until a certain amount of time passes since the last time they were on. Just like the Walk,Wait signals everywhere else.


  15. Dig the road under main st. and the “PF Changs” crosswalk. Two problems solved. traffic is better and a lovely plaza can be built over the top of the tunnel!


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