After years of discussing ways to improve the Franklin Boulevard commercial corridor, the business district has some money to start getting serious.
Over the weekend, the North Franklin District Business Association celebrated receiving a combined $683,000 in grants toward creating an improvement plan. Those stemmed from $433,000 from the Sacramento Council of Governments and another $250,000 from the city of Sacramento.
The North Franklin District Business Association recently received $683,000 in grants to help develop an improvement plan. District executive director Marti Brown said over the next 12 to 15 months, the district will create a plan for improving the streetscape and traffic plan for Franklin from the intersection with Sutterville Road to the city limits.
Brown said such a plan would include possibly reducing the number of traffic lanes to two, putting in a raised median and adding more pedestrian/bike lanes and landscaping.
As it is now, she said, Franklin’s four lanes and central turn lane make the boulevard more tempting for drivers to use instead of nearby Highway 99. The result is lots of traffic passing through the district, but not necessarily patronizing its businesses as it does.
Even so, she said, she’ll be spending some time convincing business owners that reducing traffic will make the corridor better.
“There’s some concern there about people being able to reach their businesses,” she said. Many businesses fear access will worsen if customers don’t have a middle turn lane anymore, she said. “It’s going to be an education campaign as much as anything.”
But improving the streetscape and traffic will also have another effect, Brown said. Making Franklin more amenable to cyclists and pedestrians could stimulate development interest in the handful of vacant lots on the street. That could take the form of new commercial development, or even mixed-use residential, she said. Other empty land near but not on Franklin could also get some mixed-income housing as a result.
Crafting a plan would be the first step to then applying for more grants to put the plan into action. Brown said she’ll be creating the plan with plenty of business input.