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Connecting Windsor | Windsor


While the U.S. 101 freeway has been a major transportation asset to the Town of Windsor region since its construction in the late 1950s, it also creates a significant barrier to mobility and connectivity for town visitors and community members.

The Central Windsor Underpass on Old Redwood Highway is the primary link between the east and west sides of town, serving approximately half of all daily cross-town vehicular traffic. For pedestrians, the underpass experience includes loud traffic noise reverberating on hard concrete surfaces, inadequate lighting, imposing retaining walls, long crosswalks with high volume high speed freeway ramp traffic, a long distance between crosswalks across Old Redwood Highway, and long distances between pedestrian friendly resting spots. For cyclists, the crossing presents a choice between sharing a sidewalk with pedestrians that is too narrow for safe multimodal use, or using a substandard width bike lane between a vertical concrete retaining wall and heavy traffic. In addition to the challenges of crossing U.S. 101, the freeway disrupts the physical coherence of the town by bisecting and separating Windsor into an east and a west side.

Scope & Goals
To address these deficiencies and work toward the Town’s broader goal of creating a more cohesive and walkable downtown area, the Town of Windsor elected to conduct a comprehensive study of bicycle and pedestrian access in Central Windsor. The scope of this Study comprised first analyzing constraints and challenges, and then developing and assessing alternative solutions to:
• Facilitate Crossing
• Improve Connectivity and Walkability
• Improve Urban Coherence

1972 Aerial view of Central Windsor looking south from project area, with the U.S. 101 underpass on Old Redwood Highway at the left (Sonoma County Aerial Photography Collection)

2017 Aerial view of Central Windsor looking south from project area (Google Earth)

New Yorkers stop to rest in one of many Broadway Mall’s mini public spaces in 1963

The Broadway Mall’s benches provide a place to break for lunch in 2014

Precedents for underpass aesthetic improvements

East Campbell Avenue at Highway 17 underpass before the Campbell Avenue Portals Project in Campbell, CA

After completion of the Campbell Avenue Portals Project

Existing U.S. 101 at Central Windsor underpass on Old Redwood Highway

Potential aesthetic improvements to the U.S. 101 at Central Windsor underpass

Design Process

The Connecting Windsor project team began working on studies including traffic counts, assessments of compliance with standards, topographic surveys, drone photos, and reviews of as-built drawings, existing studies, and transportation and commercial development plans. Shortly thereafter, the team commenced public engagement, including seven stakeholder focus meetings, two public workshops, two on-line public surveys, a presentation to the Town Council, and a presentation to the Planning Commission to understand the challenges, issues, and desires for the Study as seen by the Windsor community. Together, these initial engineering studies and community engagement activities provided a detailed understanding of the myriad specific design problems to be solved as well as concrete criteria that could be used to assess alternative solutions.

The second phase of the Connecting Windsor Study consisted of developing a broad range of alternative conceptual design solutions

Existing conditions within the Central Windsor underpass

Rendered view of proposed conditions within the U.S. 101 at Central Windsor Underpass

Media:  Site-specific research and analysis, precedents research, design alternatives and visualization
Type: Urban design / City planning Research
Dimension: Connecting Central Windsor
Budget: Town local funding
Proposal Location: Central Windsor, CA
Project Manager: Shivang Patwa
Project Team: SGA Team and Sub-Consultants

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