Hollister council temporarily stops traffic calming projects | BenitoLink

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After spending more than $1 million on two streets, leaders shift focus to come up with a policy and budget.

With neither a budget nor a plan specifically for traffic-calming projects, the previous Hollister City Council approved over $1 million for traffic calming on two of 50 roads studied: Ladd Lane ($687,036) and Central Avenue ($536,653). 

Mayor Mia Casey, who was not on the council that approved the projects, was determined to stop spending money and angering residents.

Casey asked that the topic be placed on a future agenda so the council could discuss the process for developing traffic-calming measures and adopt a formal policy to help people understand the criteria and process.

She said other cities have neighborhood traffic management programs and that the previous council had developed a policy that was never adopted. She hoped the new council would reconsider it.

Hollister tabled a policy on speed cushions in December 2021. The city also adopted a roundabout policy in April 2019.

Frederick Venter, a vice president with planning and design consultant Kimley-Horn, told the council there are currently 50 requests for speed cushion studies in the city, and that 24 roads warranted installation of speed cushions, while 26 did not. He said the studies were considered “informal” because the city does not have a formal policy.

The general speed cushion criteria for roads includes:

  • The road is classified as a collector or local street in the General Plan
  • Roads with schools/parks/residential driveways
  • Road has only one travel lane in each direction
  • Road grade is less than 8% and truck traffic is less than 5% of daily trips
  • Posted speed limit is 30 mph or less
  • The observed 85% vehicle speed is greater than posted speed limit by 5 mph or more

Previously, all that was required to set traffic-calming measures in motion was a single complaint to a council member, who would contact the city manager or engineering department, who, in turn, would reach out to a consultant to conduct a traffic data collection study. If the consultant determined a calming measure was required and the council approved it, city crews would install the speed cushions.

As part of the policy, the City Council said a person would need to circulate a petition to gather signatures from people who live along the street and present it to the city. There is currently no petition process in place, according to City Clerk Jennifer Woodworth.

One project that has been controversial is the Ladd Lane/Southside Road project. Venter said there were multiple meetings with the community and council to show different versions of concept drawings. 

Councilman Rolan Resendiz said he wanted the public to understand the subcontractor was to blame for the first striping.

The project’s striping was originally sharp, squiggly curves but was changed to a rounded zig-zag pattern.

Many residents remain skeptical about the result on Ladd Lane. Even Casey, who lives nearby, called attention to a study that cited numerous speeding incidents and accidents that she considered faulty. She pointed out that in her own research she determined over 90% of the incidents took place near the intersection of Ladd Lane and Hillock Drive near Safeway, not along the remainder of the road where the calming measures have been placed.

During public comments, several residents voiced their displeasure about maneuvering through neighborhoods with speed cushions and other traffic-calming measures.

Bill Mifsud, owner of Bill’s Bullpen, told of how he was turning left from Nash Road onto Ladd Lane when an ambulance came up behind him and the car in front of him could not pull over to the right.

“She didn’t know if she should pull to the right, pull to the left and go over the center divider,” he said. “She dumped into the center divider and drove over these big things and the ambulance went by her.”

Resident Carl Deleonardo has spoken at the last two council meetings about how difficult it is for him to negotiate all the speed cushions due to a spine injury. He said there has been no mention about how the calming measures are affecting response times for ambulances.

“We’re going to have to look at things beyond response time, such as someone being hurt because the ambulance goes over a hump,” he said, adding that he wanted to know how many lawsuits have been filed by people with disabilities who were injured because of the speed controlling measures. “And I’d also like to know how many traffic humps have been removed across the country because of ADA concerns.”

Resident Joe White said while he is not opposed to traffic calming measures in general, he believes those along Buena Vista were done incorrectly. He told BenitoLink later that he believes over $500,000 was wasted on Buena Vista. He said the speed cushions are not appropriate for buses or emergency vehicles.

“If I have a heart attack it’s going to take ambulances longer to get there,” he said.

In previous meetings, engineers have said the speed bumps are designed to allow emergency vehicles to drive through them without being affected. 

Resident James Conner called for a common sense approach. He said when he drives by Frank Klauer Park on Beverly Drive there are eight speed cushions and his car has been damaged.

“You have to go down to five miles an hour to get over [the speed cushions] and that’s 20 to 30 seconds to how long it adds to EMS services,” he said.

Councilwoman Dolores Morales agreed with Casey on the need to have a policy in place that addresses a balanced approach in moving forward with any more traffic-calming projects.

“So, when we do have policy there’s communication with neighbors, there’s consideration for safety, there’s consideration for property, and if it is warranted, that we have a budgetary line item to be able to prioritize these projects and really plan out what exactly we’re going to do for the year,” she said.

There was a consensus on the council to halt any new traffic calming projects until then.

 

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