County recently proposed removing a significant amount of parking on Alameda, near Harkins and Prospect. You have til March 1st to make comments and County Public Works has scheduled this to be presented to County Board of Supervisors on May 19th.
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Alameda Proposed Improvement - FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What is up with County proposal to remove parking?
What is the discussion about lane width?
Lane width on Alameda de las Pulgas is a major factor if we are to have reduced speeds and have all of the safety improvements in place. Why? Well there are really two aspects:
1) Motorists naturally drive slower in narrow lanes, even slightly wider lanes have a dramatic increase in motorist's speed. So narrower lanes are required to reduce motorist speed.
2) We have a fixed amount of roadway width (curb to curb width) which County has measured as 64'. If widths are managed correctly (that is, kept as narrow as possible), there is adequate width to address the safety improvements that the community has requested and safety engineers have recommended:
- a 3 lane road way with 1 travel lane each direction and center turn/merge lane
- bike lanes each direction with buffers between bikes and motorists
- ADA compliant sidewalks both directions
To reduce traffic speed naturally, the lanes need to be 9' but no more than 10'. To experience these lane widths yourself, there are two sections to travel. Santa Cruz between Hill View School and University Ave downtown has 10' travel lanes and 9' center turn lane. Speed is still an issue there, but less often then in the past. Also, Alameda has a very long section north of Woodside Rd that has 9' travel and turn lanes and you will probably notice that traffic flows much slower there. Both of these locations have a similar road configuration.
Pedestrian, Cyclist, and Resident Safety:
The Alameda is currently extremely dangerous for all. The reconfiguration of 4 lanes to 3 lanes (4-3 road diet) will have narrower traffic lanes, provide ADA sidewalks on both sides of the road, added protection for pedestrians by moving traffic lanes 15' away from pedestrians by having a curb, 7 ½ parking, 5' bike lane, and 2' bike buffer on both sides of the road.
Resident's safety is also greatly improved when entering Alameda from the side streets and their driveways. This is due to greatly improved visibility since they have the 7' of bike/buffer to better see all on-coming traffic AND a safe center turn/merge lane to use so they can enter the traffic flow by only having to cross a single lane of traffic and having the protection of the center turn/merge lane before entering the opposite traffic lane.
This FAQ will be added to in the near future. Comments and questions made below will be incorporated in future edit.
Why are we considering a 4-3 lane diet for Alameda?
For most that live here or near here, this one short section of Alameda has many safety issues: no sidewalks for most of it, no bike lanes, a fast wide multi-lane expressway feel, no center turn/merge lane, and unnecessary long crosswalks. It is a major school route. Residents can not walk along this section of Alameda without entering the roadway and strollers, walkers, wheelchairs must use the roadway. There are a high number of speeders, accidents, and near misses.
The rest of Alameda and the new section of Santa Cruz from Middle School to downtown is a 3 lane road with bike lanes, sidewalks, and center turn lanes. It is just this 1,200 foot section of Alameda that is different.
Links to information on safety advantages of moving to 3 lanes:
What is a Road Diet for Alameda de las Pulgas?
Road Diet repositions pavement markings to better meet the needs of all road users. A classic Road Diet converts a four-lane undivided roadway to a three-lane roadway that includes a dedicated center lane that allows for left turns and cars merging on to Alameda. This is termed a '4/3 road diet'.
There are many other reconfigurations, includiong a 5-4 diet or a 5-3 diet (see Information Guide on 4 to 3 Alameda Diet)
What are the Pros and Cons?
Pros/Cons points come from different places. Formally, various government agencies and experts have published pro/con points. These include the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the individual transportation departments in States and other countries.
Additionally there are pros/cons that come up when local residents learn about and discuss the 4 to 3 lane road change as it relates to our community and the Alameda specifically. These are discussed in [growing] detail on the Alameda 4 to 3 Lane - pro & con webpage where additional comments and discussion is included through the Comment Section at the bottom of that page.
How much would it cost for a 4-3 lane change?
The Road reconfiguration is actually quite inexpensive and straight forward, because basically it is a matter of removing the current pavement markings and replacing with marked lanes for the 3 traffic lanes and bike lanes. Since the Alameda lanes currently are not painted, but instead marked with lane-bumps , only the bumps need to be removed and only a small amount of paint. That cost is roughly $5 per linear foot of road way.
Providing for added administration time, design/engineering, signage, and allowing for contingencies costs, the full price would be in the $35,000 range for our section of Alameda. (see FHWA Cost of Road Diet and check it out yourself.)
Putting that into perspective, this cost is about the same as a non-injury accident and an order of magnitude less expensive than a moderate injury accident. If you can put a value on the cost of saving a school child from being hit, then please use your own judgement on applying that cost to this perspective.
The stats on a road change from 4 to 3 lanes can reduce accidents by 19 to 47%. With dozens of reported accidents in recent years, the road diet actually saves money and reduces liability and risk. Please add to the discussion by using the Comments section at the bottom of that Pro & Con page.
Why so inexpensive? The road diet from 4 to 3 lanes does not require much. Remove the current lane markings and paint the new lane markings, this is often called a 'scrape-n-paint'. There is a requirement for 'design layout' to mark the new lane configuration, but this work is straight forward for this short section of Alameda. This design layout defines where the new bike lanes, bike buffers, parking, travel lanes, and left turn/merge lane will exist. It also defines where the expanded width of sidewalks will be placed.
One of the reasons the road diet is not expensive is that while it addresses the traffic lanes, bike lanes, and shorter crosswalks, it only defines where the sidewalks will be. The 4 to 3 road diet in itself can separate the road configuration and layout from a second project of sidewalks. So while getting a safer road which is relatively cheap($35,000 range), the cost of safe ADA compliant sidewalks on Alameda is much more expensive - in the range of $200,000+.
Good news is that a road diet could be put in place while funding for the sidewalks is found and budgeted.
What is the cost of sidewalks for Alameda?
Using FHWA and several other cost estimation sources, a round number for installing sidewalks in our area is about $20/sq.ft. A very rough measurement for the west side of Alameda, from Aston to Camp Bello, is 1,600 linear ft. The east sidewalks, from Liberty Park to the Y intersection, is about 1,270 linear ft.
So straight math: 2,870 linear feet * 4.5’ width sidewalk (ADA compliant) * $20/sq.ft. = $258k
That $20/sq.ft. has some contingency room, but adding an additional 20% contingency would be $52k. This estimate anticipates using the existing intersection turns. If the existing intersection turns need to be completely redone and the recommended chicanes are included (to preserve heritage trees), there would be some increased costs.
The entire Alameda sidewalk project should be in the ballpark of under $400k.
These estimates are much less than the millions that have been tossed around. One advantage on Alameda is that there is an existing pathway with curb, so the grading for elevation is primarily already done and this too helps reduce cost. Adding to cost will be greenery features to protect several heritage redwoods from harm, where the greenery feature may use a parking space in order route the sidewalk around the tree. In other cases these same greenery features could be used plant shrubs/trees to provide additional road components to emphasize a calmer-quieter roadway.
The following links are helpful, and more cost estimation tools can be searched on the internet.
- Cost to install concrete sidewalk - Estimates and Prices at Howmuch
- Federal Highway Administration on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, July 2006 - FHWA-HRT-05-101 (see section 9.6 where they break out curbs and walkways at $15/lin.ft and $11/sq.ft., respectfully)
- 2018 Install A Concrete Sidewalk Costs | Average Cost To Install A Concrete Sidewalk
Is there enough width for improvements?
Our section of Alameda, at its narrowest, has a width of 64', curb to curb. Additionally, there are sidewalks and pathways that represent an additional 5' to 10' width. This 64' road width provides ample room for parking on both sides, buffered bike lanes, a center left turn/merge lane, and a traffic lane each direction. Additionally, there is width left over to make the current narrow and unusable pedestrian pathways into ADA compliant sidewalks.
The question comes up if this is enough width. Further north on Alameda, between Masschussets Ave and Vera Ave, the road width is substantially narrower (54') and yet there is parking on both sides, a 5.5' bike lane, traffic lane each direction and a center left turn/merge lane. Traffic lanes widths are inline with FHWA and Traffic Calming standards, having 9' traffic lanes and center turn lanes just under 10'.
Our extra width on Alameda can provide more room for bike lane buffer, wider parking, and room to move the curbs in for a ADA compliant sidewalk. To help provide calmer traffic flow and reduce speeders, traffic lanes should be 10' or less.
This roadway layout cut-a-way shows the basic potential for our Alameda section: