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No on Alternative A / Bring back Alternative C

From: domainremoved <Katherine>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2018 08:19:07 -0800


I saw an article in the Almanac asking for comments on the current grade separation plans. I read through the plans, and want to share my perspective.

It seems obvious to me that installing a no-build alternative, such as a traffic signal with railroad preemption, makes sense. There are a number of crossings in nearby communities that have these sorts of traffic lights: we know they work. It would be vastly less expensive than the build options and could be implemented sooner. The installation of a traffic signal at the Alma / Caltrain / Ravenswood intersection would have the further benefit of making the area safer for the huge volume of pedestrians. A traffic signal could potentially open up left turns from Alma onto Ravenswood as well. With the high number of variables in the future regarding the train—high speed rail, electrification, a Middle Ave. bike/pedestrian underpass, unresolved coordination plans with other municipalities—and with all the present benefits of a traffic signal, it makes sense to adopt this no-build alternative ASAP. Installing a traffic signal allows us to sift through the variables thoughtfully, can be easily tinkered with to maximize efficiency, doesn’t preclude a build solution in the future, and makes the crossing safer now. Win-win-win-win.

I vigorously oppose Alternative A. According to the draft, "the underpass would remove direct vehicular connection between [Ravenswood Ave. and Alma St.], and thus change vehicular travel patterns.” Specifically, all cars traveling into or through Linfield Oaks would be forced to use Laurel Street. Currently, residents and cut-through traffic turn right onto Alma from eastbound Ravenswood. This is effective because it splits car traffic through the neighborhood between Alma and Laurel.

Alma is a wide street with both sidewalks and bike lanes: it is a safe environment for cars, bikes, and pedestrians to co-exist. It makes sense to maintain car access to this well-designed and efficient street. On the other hand, there are no bike lanes on Laurel, despite the fact that it has recently been designated part of the “Peninsula Bikeway.” Residents and work trucks often park in the street, pushing bicyclists further out into the middle of the street. Sidewalks are immediately adjacent to the street; pedestrians often spill over in the street since the sidewalks themselves are narrow. It doesn’t make sense to intentionally increase car traffic on Laurel.

Laurel Street, a neighborhood street, is already congested. Cutting off vehicular traffic to Alma St. would make Laurel St. through Linfield Oaks even more congested and much less safe for everyone. You may remember that a few years ago there was a trial restriction of right turns onto Alma St. from eastbound Ravenswood. Now is a good time to remember why that trial was discontinued: traffic on Ravenswood got worse and traffic on Laurel St. through Linfield Oaks got much, much worse. Laurel is a major route for kids on bikes going to and from school and it’s one of the main conduits for families going on foot to Burgess. Alternative A, an effort to make our community safer, would have the dangerous unintended consequence of making Laurel St. decidedly less safe.

Furthermore, at this time there is no representative on City Council dedicated to representing District 3, which includes Linfield Oaks. It is not appropriate for City Council to approve a decision that would severely and negatively impact the Linfield Oaks neighborhood's safety and quality of life when there is no council member to represent us.

If the City Council is determined to move forward with a build solution, Alternative C would be preferable: “Alma St. would be lowered to match the elevation of the lowered Ravenswood Ave., resulting in a intersection that resembles the existing Ravenswood/Alma intersection, providing the ability to restore full vehicular access.” This would keep traffic into and through Linfield Oaks split between Alma and Laurel St., thus keeping Laurel St. safer for bikes and pedestrians.

Making train crossings safer is an important goal and one that I support. Please fulfill that goal with a traffic signal or Alternative C. Alternative A makes Laurel Street through Linfield Oaks less safe and is therefore not a good solution.

Katy Miller
Sherwood Way
Received on Mon Dec 31 2018 - 08:16:09 PST

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