http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/02/22/alamo-meeting-airs-concerns-over-traffic-dangers


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - February 22, 2008

Alamo meeting airs concerns over traffic dangers

Old solutions rehashed while neighbors stew

by Natalie O'Neill

A roomful of distressed Alamo residents told county staff last week that it's time to stop waffling on a decision to put a stoplight into a notoriously dangerous intersection on Danville Boulevard last week.

A new twist on an over-8-year-old discussion came to light at an Alamo Community Council meeting, after Orchard Court resident Tonya York went public with a story about her near-death experience, getting hit by a truck in a crosswalk in front of Alamo Plaza.

Neighbors came out of the woodwork to tell their own versions of "close calls" - and to advocate the quick construction of a stoplight. County Public Works official Chris Lau and Supervisor Mary N. Piepho's South County Field Representative Gina Ferretti listened to feedback and answered questions.

"If I was on that side of the table, I would have some ownership - these are lives," York told county staff, who sat behind a rectangular table at the meeting. "It's not just a piece of paper you're pushing around."

An older neighbor chimed in.

"Take the lead. Get. It. Done."

County Civil Engineer Chris Lau, who was pummeled with questions and comments, told the audience there is $1.8 million in the Area of Benefit Fund that could be used to solve the safety problem.

The Area of Benefit Fund comes from per-house developer fees, meant to cover road projects as traffic increases in Alamo.

But there has been no consensus in the community on what action should be taken at the intersection, Lau said, and that has slowed the decision-making process. When the discussion began in early 2000, some residents strongly supported putting in a roundabout, while others pushed for a stoplight.

Today the cost of the light itself would be $300,000-$400,000, but additional reconfiguring would be likely be needed to line the Orchard Court driveway up with the light and crosswalk.

"It's a constant conversation," Lau said.

Initially he suggested the possibility of a tax for a roundabout, but attendees of the meeting stressed that wasn't realistic. And they pointed out that - at least at this meeting - there was consensus on the stoplight.

Last week, the county Board of Supervisors reduced the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 on Danville Boulevard in Alamo. Supervisor Piepho also wrote a letter this fall to California Highway Patrol, asking it to increase enforcement in the unincorporated area.

But residents say that's not going to do much for the pedestrian safety problem.

"You can still fly a long way if you're hit by a car going 25," York said.

CHP Officer Tom Maguire, who patrols the unincorporated area in the afternoons, told residents at the meeting he would look at the intersection himself the following day.

This week, Maguire said he wrote 17 speeding violations and five other traffic violations on that day alone.

"I'm gonna come down here and work Danville Boulevard ... I will personally do my best," he said.

He noted that he expected to be able to enforce the area for traffic violations once a week.

Twenty-three collisions occurred in 2007 on that unincorporated stretch of Danville Boulevard, Maguire reported.

"How do you know they're happening if you're not there?" one resident shot back.

Members of other community groups also asked if safety measures can be taken while Alamo waits on a decision. Limiting left turns coming out of the plaza was one suggestion.

"Why aren't we looking at that simple solution?" said Vicki Koc, a committee member of the Alamo Incorporation Movement.

Making regulations on the use of driveways in the plaza raises private property issues, Lau said.

"If we limit the type of movement in and out of the driveways we may need to buy the rights from the property owners," he said after the meeting.

Ferretti proposed a new transportation committee for Alamo, which could be an authoritative voice on the issue.

Newcomers were receptive to the idea, while residents who have fought for years to solve the problem - to no avail - were skeptical.

"How many committees does it take to get something done?" one neighbor asked.

Contact Natalie O'Neill at noneill@danvilleweekly.com

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