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Re: 101 Partial Cloverleaf conversion causes death + injury shortly after opening

From: domainremoved <Gary>
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2017 12:24:47 -0800

Thanks for your quick response.

I recall the discussion and the request you made to staff, but the guidance you gave was to not take any action to suspend moving forward and just to have an informational meeting to understand the disruption that the project will cause during construction.

In other words, that appeared to me to be a conscious decision NOT to further investigate the new information that I raised: that Willow has half the accident rate that Marsh Rd. has (which is the only partial cloverleaf for which CalTrans has provided data).

While on the topic, I would like to take this opportunity to address the 2 other reasons given during that meeting that led to there not being 3 votes to seriously question this project:
1) Loss of funding: I had a long conversation with Joe Hurley of the SMCTA regarding this question. Most of the funding comes from Measure A funds. Were this project to not proceed, then the funds would remain where they are and be available for other projects. Later this year, the SMCTA will be issuing a call for projects. Were they presented with proposals to put proper interchanges in at Bayfront and Willow and University (the sources of the regional congestion), it is my opinion that they would compete favorably, so not spending the $70M here would help get those funded. It is also worth noting that Joe said that they have never faced this type of situation before (deciding not to do a project so late). It turns out that we mortals are fallible and continue to do the wrong thing until it's proven that it is. Reversals happen in other fields where they continue to look at data and re-examine assumptions. For example, until recently, medical advice was to keep infants and small children away from peanuts to minimize the risk of peanut allergy. It turned out that that was the opposite of what's best and the new recommendations are go give infants peanut products before they are 6 in order to PREVENT peanut allergies. Whoops! Unfortunately, my 21-year old is now allergic due to that bad advice.
http://www.vcstar.com/story/opinion/editorials/2017/01/17/guest-editorial-reversal-peanut-allergies/
CalTrans never bothered to study their own data, so I have offered to (actually demanded to via CPRA, but they have yet to comply after 4 months).

2) Seismic risk: CalTrans has always been careful in their wording to say that when they rebuild an interchange they bring it up to the then current standards. That is not the same as saying that it is unsafe. The MPCC meeting happened in 701 Laurel, a building that is not up to current earthquake standards. Does that mean it's "unsafe?" I am glad you are concerned with safety. We should compare the additional accidents, injuries and deaths that users of the bridge might have from earthquake risks with the additional risks attributable to converting it into a parclo. Then there is the loss of fractional lives due to the significant but NOT unavoidable congestion that depends on what MP chooses to do or not do to upgrade its infrastructure where it really matters (hint: the bottlenecks — and the Willow cloverleaf is not a bottleneck, it is a victim of downstream congestion).

Thanks for your attention to this.

Sincerely,

-Gary

On Jan 31, 2017, at 11:40 AM, Kirsten Keith <kkeith_at_(domainremoved)

> Hi Gary,
>
> Thank you for your email. At our last council meeting we asked staff to follow up with Caltrans on the overpass. I'm also working with staff to have a community meeting soon.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Kirsten
> On Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 11:09 AM Gary Lauder <gary_at_(domainremoved)
> In my memo to you all 11 Months ago (February 23, 2016), which is on the MP web site at:
> http://ccin2.menlopark.org/att-12874/Memo_to_MP_City_Council_re-Willow-101_Interchange.pdf
> and an updated version is at: http://bit.ly/bad2worse
> I cited a number of problems with partial cloverleaf (parclo) interchanges and cited my sources. I was trying to keep the memo short to maximize the P(being read), so I cited the CalTrans safety stats and omitted one of the intrinsic defects of partial cloverleafs that contribute to reduced safety: a much higher propensity for drivers to enter the wrong way (which leads to higher injury and fatality rates). 23 months ago on 2/19/15, I wrote to CalTrans’s project manager for the Willow/101 project:
>> This will probably make that intersection's congestion even worse than it already is as it has done at the Marsh Rd. exit. I am baffled by CalTrans's policy to replace cloverleaf intersections with parclo's. I understand the concern about weaving, but parclo's have their safety issues as well. Signalized intersections have severe accidents, and From p. 25 of this:
>> http://d2dtl5nnlpfr0r.cloudfront.net/tti.tamu.edu/documents/4128-1.pdf
>> "full cloverleaf interchanges had the lowest wrong-way entry rate, with 2 incidents per 100 ramp-years." "Parsonson and Marks (1979) also determined that the half-diamond (3.9 per month), partial cloverleaf (“parclo”) loop ramp (11.0 per month), and parclo AB loop ramp (6.7 per month) had the highest wrong-way entry rates."
>> Is there a policy paper that explains the rationale for replacing cloverleaf with parclo's?
>
> The above source’s title is “Countermeasures for Wrong-Way Movement on Freeways.”
> Many of my questions got responses (although rarely true answers), and this one was totally ignored (as have all of my safety questions).
>
> Nine months after I asked that question, this scenario played out on a parclo that had been recently converted from a cloverleaf in San Jose, as reported here:
> San Jose: One killed, one hurt in wrong-way driver crash on Highway 101 – The Mercury News
>> http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/12/04/san-jose-one-killed-one-hurt-in-wrong-way-driver-crash-on-highway-101/
>
>> As you can see from this, that project was justified in much the same way as the Willow/101 project:
> http://www.vta.org/projects-and-programs/highway/interchange-projects
> A picture of that parclo from Google Maps is appended below.
>
> Despite the many defects of of this design, CalTrans does not have any studies to prove or disprove their safety claims. They do however have the DATA that can be rapidly analyzed to assess this. The analysis that I gave you this week was done in one evening, and it should not take much more data to evaluate the safety questions. I filed a CPRA with CalTrans to provide that data in September, and they have yet to provide data that is any more usable than what was in the TOAR, which is what I gave you last week.
> Again, my recommendation is that the MPCC defer the project (not cancel it) until the important questions get answered. Also, I think the most fruitful way of getting to the truth on this would be for some kind of direct engagement between me and whomever is advocating for this since there have been many non-responsive answers repeated by them (and by MP). This could be in public or private (preferable).
>
> Continuing forward on this project without the safety questions being answered convincingly (i.e. with data, not a verbal assurances), is IMHO irresponsible since MP is the project sponsor.
>
> Thanks,
>
> -Gary Lauder
>
> PS: Tunneling, which was brought up at the last meeting, is actually a good idea, and Elon Musk’s having brought it up last week will cause it to be more seriously considered. Last week I met the US representative of a company that finances, builds and operates toll roads via public-private partnerships. This could be a great solution for Menlo Park traffic in a way that is self-funding. Were this project to be pursued, it’s not clear how compatible a reconfigured Willow interchange would be to the subsequent tunnel…yet another reason to postpone in order to study & plan. Another tunnel-related thought for you: the probable route under El Camino Real would need to have 4 entry and exit ramps on ECR. This would have implications for development just north of the Stanford Park Hotel.
>
> Google Maps image of the SJ partial cloverleaf that was converted from a cloverleaf in 2014, resulting in the above-mentioned fatal accident:
>
>
> <PastedGraphic-1.png>
Received on Tue Jan 31 2017 - 12:28:07 PST

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