After numerous public meetings and dozens of public comments, Galt Planning Commission members finally approved the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and planning document regarding the Carillion Boulevard Corridor Plan; however, commission members chose not to recommend either conceptual plan presented by city staff.
The two conceptual plans caused an outpouring of public input since their first introduction back in 2018.
Almost polar opposites in concept, Alternative 1 called for Carillion Boulevard to be put on a diet, a “road-diet” that is, which takes the now four-lane road down to two lanes. In addition, 11 roundabouts would be erected along the Carillion Boulevard corridor, beginning with the Twin Cities Road intersection at the north end to a new proposed Carillion intersection at Boessow Road on the south. Roundabouts were proposed at nearly every intersection in between.
Where Alternative 1 called for 11 roundabouts, Alternative 2 called for traffic signals at each intersection, and no diet is required with this plan.
The two plans have polarizing price tags, as well; Alternative 1 is estimated at nearly $34 million, where Alternative 2 chimes in at $19 million.
The Carillion Boulevard Corridor Plan was the product of a $600,000 California Energy Commission grant received in 2017. That grant was awarded to help the city develop and update a Climate Action Plan, of which the Carillion project was a part.
The final requirement to satisfy the grant is the Planning Commission’s and, ultimately, the City Council’s acceptance of the reports, something that city staff has been trying to get since July when it first went before the Planning Commission for approval.
At the July meeting, the commission was deadlocked and revisited the plan in August. At the August meeting, commissioners ultimately voted 3-2 to recommend that Council reject the report, finding the 11 roundabouts and road-diet a hard pill to swallow.
Council reviewed the recommendation and, after a lengthy discussion and over an hour of public comments regarding the plans, Council chose to send the item back for the Planning Commission to further review.
After another one-and-a-half-hour discussion on Nov. 12, city staff and legal council told Planning commissioners that all they needed to do to satisfy the grant was receive and accept the environmental and planning documents; however, it was not necessary to choose one of the proposed corridor plans.
Commissioners had mixed feelings regarding this outcome.
Commission chair Keith Jones was concerned that, by not approving the 11-roundabout plan, the city may be foregoing future funding opportunities, as that plan satisfied “Complete Streets” goals, goals set by state and national organizations to provide safe mobility for all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
Jones said he was “sounding like a broken record” by encouraging the commission and ultimately City Council to go ahead and approve Alternative 1, because the city “didn’t have money to move forward with the plan anyway,” but by approving that alternative, the city may be in a better position to apply for Complete Streets funding, “to do something.”
Interim Community Development Director Craig Hoffman told Jones that there are other grant opportunities for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements. And while Alternative 1 checks many boxes as far as some funding opportunities, it missed the mark somewhere else.
“It (Alternative 1) absolutely checks every box that the Energy Commission likes to see,” Hoffman said. “The box it didn’t check is what the community wanted. And I think that was a struggle and that was a disconnect.”
Unlike Jones, Commissioners Dan Gerling and Mat Pratton were not comfortable approving a plan with 11 roundabouts, even if the plan would be “shelved” for a later date.
“I don’t want to leave anything on the table that accepts 11 roundabouts,” Gerling said, to which Pratton adamantly agreed.
Cindy Gnos, a consultant with Raney Planning and Management, weighed in on the discussion as well.
“The grant cannot tie a Council to a specific action,” Gnos said. “The grant was only to do the study to provide information in which to make decisions. And the grant can’t tie you to a specific decision. In the future, if you want to apply for grants, you’ve really got to enhance bicycle activity, and they want protected bike lanes. They don’t want you riding half in the gutter and half not. So, if you’re applying for a grant for that, you might not get it. But there are other types of grants out there that you may get that could add enhancements to the crosswalks – the latest and greatest, flashing beacons and things like that. So there might be grants for other things that you could make improvements on Carillion Boulevard without actually going for a complete street.”
Ultimately, the commissioners unanimously agreed to recommend Council receive and accept the report, approve the environmental documents, but that the commission does not recommend any of the alternatives presented.