This part of John Knox White’s letter to the City Council regarding the Draft Transportation Priority list really struck me. And can I just note that while there seems to be a lack of interest in the topic of the Transportation project priority list, these are the types of the staff led projects that lead to disastrous results like the Park Street Streetscape because the information is incredibly dry and uninformative and folks tend to not really know the specifics of the project.
Anyway, this part was pretty striking:
The recent Gibbons Drive debacle is an example of how responding on a case-by-case basis to neighborhood complaints can prioritize low-necessity projects in neighborhoods that are engaged within the political process while possibly higher-need projects (like traffic calming at Pacific/Lincoln in front of the Academy of Alameda where kids have actually been hit by cars, and the City has gone through a planning process) are not pursued for funding. It should be noted that neither of these projects is on the priority list now.
To refresh, this is what happened on Gibbons. The proposal by staff was to use funding from the Safe Routes to School grant money to fund the fixes on Gibbon for traffic calming. The eventual outcome of the neighborhood meeting is that the issue will now go to the Transportation Commission for approval of whatever plan was agreed on. Word is that the project will probably not make it past the TC.
But it appears that the priorities of the Public Works Departments tends to rank according to who complains loudest at a time when they are particularly vulnerable to squeaky wheels. Projects that should be funded using an appropriate pot of grant money seem to have fallen by the way side, see Pacific/Lincoln example above.
As you can see below, the street in front of the Academy of Alameda is a bit of a mess.
With only one major crosswalk which cuts across four lanes of traffic, it’s not the safest place for kids to cross, but the only marked crosswalk for kids to use. Even though the City has gone through a planning process to address the safety issues for the students attending that site previously, this project didn’t rank highly enough to even be considered on the Transportation Project Priority list.
Which just goes to show how incredibly arbitrary the draft list actually is, hopefully the City Council will ask for a re-do from Public Works to actually create a document that reflects the priorities of the City of Alameda instead of the priorities of the staff of the City of Alameda.