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How Davis has met the Challenges of Growth

Recently constructed overcrossing
of Interstate 80
Since 1950, the city's population has grown from under 5,000 to over 53,000. Many state employees who work in Sacramento have made Davis a "bedroom community" as much as it is still a "college town". They are drawn by Davis' small-town atmosphere, the University's cultural and social attractions, as well as the City's generally progressive political climate, low crime rate, and, not least, its cyclist-friendly environment.

Changing demographics have affected the Davis cycling climate in several ways. Despite decades-old policies to control growth, the City has grown significantly both in population and area since the 1960s. Much new housing has been added on the western and eastern ends of town, resulting in greater travel distances to the University and downtown.

South Davis, defined by that part of the city south of Interstate 80 and east of downtown and the campus, has absorbed much of the city's growth in recent years. The major link between south Davis and the rest of town is a four-lane freeway overpass with standard on- and off-ramps. Although a familiar feature in most cities through which freeways run, and despite being designed with careful attention to bicyclists' needs, the structure's inherent complexity relative to other Davis bike facilities is perceived by many Davis residents as a significant obstacle to bicycle travel between south Davis and the rest of town.

A solution in the form of a $4 million bike and pedestrian undercrossing of six lanes of Interstate 80, a two-lane frontage road, and the adjacent Union Pacific railroad track has provided a convenient and auto-free connection between south Davis, the University and the downtown core. Solutions can be found to seemingly insurmountable problems that would otherwise break up bicycling travel networks.

In addition to the bicycle undercrossing, a new (2002) bicycle/pedestrian overcrossing of Interstate 80 and the railroad provides another auto-free route connecting south Davis with new residential and shopping destinations in east Davis.

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