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Problems with the new Willow/101 overpass

From: domainremoved <Brian>
Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2017 00:20:42 +0000 (UTC)

- For Publication -
Dear Editor,
I opposed the new Willow/101 overpass for years as an expensive boondoggle that would do nothing to improve traffic and leave us with the status quo.  I was wrong.  The actual new overpass is an expensive boondoggle that has degraded badly traffic for a mile in any direction at rush hour.
I live on a street that is now impassable 3-4 nights a week at rush hour because of the new traffic signals on the overpass.  Those signals are not temporary; as I understand it, they are to be permanent fixtures on the overpass.  They are the root cause of the traffic woes we face.  The problem we have in the Willows is not traffic in the neighborhood; that is a consequence of adding those new signals and the of the delays and chaos those signals cause.  At least once a week I have to abandon my car and walk 1-2 blocks to get home, because driving that last block would take 20-30 minutes.  Still, I vehemently oppose attempts to restrict traffic into and out of the Willows.  Our streets are public streets; we do not live in a gated community.  Further, any restrictions on traffic inevitably will boomerang on residents themselves, who will get barred from entering the neighborhood in ways that make sense for getting home.
Nevertheless, the new traffic signals have been a boon to those who want to privatize the public streets in the Willows, as the City has put out ineffective and unenforceable "No Thru Traffic" signs around the Willows.  However, even if every road in and out of the Willows were barricaded shut, the fact remains there is nowhere for traffic to go at rush hour.  Willow, Marsh and University are archaic and woefully inadequate 2-lane roads that simply can't handle the burden of today.  That is the root cause of our problems, exacerbated by those poorly-considered additional traffic signals on Willow Road.  That is the reality we have to face.  One or ideally all of those streets need to be widened to accommodate the volume of people who use those roads now and in the future.
Caltrans perhaps could modify the design of the bridge, but those two traffic signals seem to be integral to the bridge design.  That is Caltrans' fault.  Their project materials and EIR completely ignored the massive and terrible impact of the project on traffic in areas near the bridge.  That analysis was Caltrans' responsibility, and they failed.  Menlo Park PD has done their best to deal with the chaos; I have seen them direct traffic at Chester and Willow by hand to clear traffic out of the neighborhood.  It's not sustainable to expect them to do that 3-4 times a week in perpetuity in order to deal with inept traffic engineering choices.  However, it looks like they will have to, at least until main traffic arteries are widened.  Caltrans sold the City a bill of goods, for what seems to be no reason at all other than to build a bridge for the sake of building a bridge.  Now we get to live with the consequences of their incompetence.
Brian ScharLaurel AvenueMenlo Park, California
Received on Fri Dec 01 2017 - 16:25:07 PST

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