Planners Propose a Slimmed-Down Park Marina Drive as a Step Toward Riverfront Development

With its impressive size, sweeping curves and emerald green water, the Sacramento River is a defining feature of Redding and an easy way to enjoy a decent-sized stretch of the river is to take a ride on Park Marina Drive.

City of Redding planners know that as well, and they are now looking at ways more people (in cars, on bikes and on foot) can take advantage of Park Marina. Planners also want a revamped street that will work side-by-side with pending development (and redevelopment) of the riverfront area.

Work has already started on the Park Marina Drive Corridor Study, which officials hope will result in a blueprint “for transforming Park Marina Drive into an active and accessible multi-modal corridor that will provide the foundation for supporting long term development of the area into a riverfront destination.”

Park Marina Drive is already an important link between the downtown area, Cypress Avenue, Turtle Bay Exploration Park and the Sundial Bridge, Highway 44, the Garden Tract and businesses on Athens Avenue and Locust Street.

Another motivation for the study are nearby additions to the scene, including the Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge, the Dana Drive-to-downtown bike and pedestrian path, bike paths on the Cypress Avenue Bridge and the pending Diestelhorst-to-Downtown bike and pedestrian path.

Planners anticipate more bicyclists and walkers on Park Marina and they want the street to be safer and more inviting for non-motorists.

Also pending, but not part of the Park Marina Drive Corridor Study, is the fate of private property next to the river. A lot of it is owned by the Kutras family and leased to the McConnell Foundation, including the now-closed Budgetel River Inn and adjoining restaurant. Those leases expire in 2021. The McConnell Foundation owns the Park Marina Apartments and the Ethan Allen/Davita Redding Dialysis shopping center.

Mike Warren, the Turtle Bay CEO and former Redding city manager, participated in a recent community workshop conducted online via Zoom and urged the project leaders to think big and look to the way Portland has incorporated the Willamette River into its downtown scene.

He said a bike path should be along the river and not adjacent to the street. “It’s almost as if what we’re setting up will improve the area by 25 percent. I’m shooting for a destination area,” Warren said. On the west side of Park Marina, Warren said he favors the wider sidewalk and rezoning the single-family homes to commercial. “Let the whole community enjoy the river. Otherwise they won’t even see the river.”

Melissa Estrada, a transportation planner with the city, said the current focus is on the right-of-way property the city controls. However, “our intent with whatever is in the plan will complement any development. We’re in contact with the Kutras family but right now (development) is kind of unforeseen.”

The $200,000 study is made possible by a $190,000 grant awarded by the Shasta Regional Transportation Agency. The city dipped into its street funds for the remaining $10,000.

TJKM Transportation Consultants, one of two firms contracted to help with the study, unveiled a “road diet” approach during the community workshop. The consultants suggested slimming down Park Marina from four lanes to three to provide a traffic lane in each direction and a left-turn center lane.

The first option eliminates curbside parking to provide buffered bicycle lanes in each direction and a multi-use trail (bicycles and pedestrians) on the east side of Park Marina; the second option allows parking and calls for unbuffered bike lanes and the multi-use trail.

The multi-use trail would be 12 feet wide along the east side of Park Marina. Not exactly a riverside path but pretty close.

The consultants also recommend a pair of roundabouts to slow traffic and make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. One traffic circle would be at the intersections of Village Drive and Olympus Avenue (near the Aqua Golf facility) and the other is proposed at Athens Avenue. Each would have pedestrian and bicycle crossings.

Another idea, albeit one that was described as extra-preliminary, would be to block vehicle traffic on Park Marina between Washington Avenue and South Street and divert it along Washington Avenue on the west side of Kutras Park.

Shelby Nadin, a project engineer overseeing the corridor study, said the city has received requests in the past to hold events next to the river and by Kutras Park. By bypassing traffic, that area could become a public gathering spot suitable for farmers markets and other events.

The city and the consultants want to hear from the public as they fine-tune alternatives that will be reviewed at a community workshop in January.

Click here to respond to a survey: http://s.alchemer.com/s3/Park-Marina-Drive-Corridor-Study-Survey
Click here for an interactive map to make suggestions: https://app.maptionnaire.com/en/9718/
Click here to review the November workshop presentation: https://www.cityofredding.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=24708

Jon Lewis

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.

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