Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 17, 2012

Making it a priority

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Transportation — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

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.



  1. Lauren, interesting, way back when I went to Longfellow School I believe it was a woman who was hit by a car and killed. The accident was at at fifth and Marshall way. Marshall Way coming past Chipman has no stop sign but Pacific does. Cars can get up some speed before they reach that area and its not safe. Also while I’m thinking about it people should take a good look at the intersection in front of Encinal High to me its even worse. Five streets converge there and its really hard to see other cars coming. But of course its in the West End.

    Comment by John P. — April 17, 2012 @ 8:24 am

  2. John P. the intersection in front of Encinal is a great example.

    It’s bad enough for cars coming down 3rd street toward Encinal trying to make any sort of turn on to Central, bicycles have it even worse.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 17, 2012 @ 9:05 am

  3. Exactly, cars coming down third to the stop sign cannot see anything coming from their right so you have to pull out into the intersection blind. Cars coming down Central and turning right onto third st. are generally going to fast to stop for pedestrians. Right turns from Taylor Ave. going back towards Webster are also a lot of fun. I live two doors down from this intersection and we have had many accidents in this area. I would think that P.W. would be looking at these type of intersection before they would be concerned about an intersection on Fernside Dr.

    Comment by John P. — April 17, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  4. I honestly think that a lot of the odd intersections are mitigated by the very low speed limit on the island, and the fact that streets are narrow, there are parked cars, etc, which serve to calm traffic. The investments should be in getting people on and off the island, especially at the Park Street and Posey/Webster Tubes on the Oakland side. These access points are horrible gateways to the city. Every effort should be made to partner with the City of Oakland to fund signal upgrades, signage, and lighting from I-880 to the entry point to Alameda. This is going to become especially critical once Target opens up in 2013.

    As an avid cyclist, I’m also a big fan of a potential new bike crossing into downtown Oakland/Jack london square.

    Comment by jmz — April 17, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  5. PW racks up billable hours just by doing studies & applying for grants, Pizi. Why don’t we just stuff the grant money in the General Fund & not tell the Feds? Then Vote Republican & most of this excess planning will Go Away.

    Comment by vigi — April 17, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  6. vigi, I’d rather cut my arm off than vote for a republican. They have done a pretty good job of “excess”, you ever hear of Iraq. Afghanistan, military budget??.

    Comment by John P. — April 17, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  7. The people I talk to living near this intersection don’t want any of the re-engineered versions. No children need to go to school across this intersection– there are safe alternatives that are not out of the way. I don’t think children even see this intersection as part of their route to school, since both the Lincoln and Buena Vista crossings are close and protected by stop signs. If they want to slow traffic further, just narrow the streets by extending the V of Southwood/Gibbons, and Northwood/Gibbons and give those homeowners who are on the corner more property. Make it a merge with no crosswalks. The unintended consequences of the addition a few years ago of stop signs at Versailles and Buena Vista and Versailles and Lincoln are that more people use Cambridge/Northwood/Gibbons as a throughway from Fernside to Lincoln.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — April 17, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  8. So I went to the City’s web site and found comments from the second public meeting for this issue on November 2010– the notes are very brief so I cut and pasted below:
    “Traffic Calming Gibbons Drive – 2nd Public Meeting – Public Comments
    • Notification issues – some did not receive notices, some did not know of the meeting
    until a few days prior (informed through the posters on the barricades)
    • Request: Stop/Yield signs instead
    • Concern regarding tree roots
    • Potential diversion of traffic onto other streets
    • Loss of parking
    • Kids will be kids
    • Motorists do slow down
    • Request: Neighborhood Watch instead of traffic calming
    • Too many stop signs
    • This meeting was concurrent with the AUSD school closure meeting
    • Assessment District not supported by community
    • Vocal opposition for use of City Funds for the conceptual design
    • Not enough traffic to calm
    • The intersection causes a nervous situation as a parent for their kids”

    It really doesn’t look like a consensus of the neighbors for applying for a grant, but they did it anyway.

    The 3rd public meeting, February 2012, had lots more comments but most comments were opposed to the project .

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — April 17, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  9. The Encinal and Academy entries are impacted by vehicles turning left and dropping off students in conflict with students in crosswalks. Inexpensive solutions would involve signage, striping, plastic bollards, and other traffic directional aides not requiring repaving of streets. The Paden entry was improved a few years ago by removal of parking within the dropoff zone to allow a smooth flow of vehicles. Time for creative traffic engineering?

    Comment by Bob — April 20, 2012 @ 11:24 am

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