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Pros & Cons - Santa Cruz/Alameda Y Intersection

This webpage pertains to the Santa Cruz / Alameda  Y Intersection.  Our community has the distinction of having one of the most dangerous intersections in all of County.  Core to that problem is obviously the design that has skewed road approaches and high speed design, both at odds with Federal Highway guidelines.

There are many safety issues at this intersection, high on the priority list are:

  • speeding motorists
  • high accident rate
  • inherit dangers and risks of skewed intersection
  • safety risks to residents
  • blind corners and visibility issues
  • extra - extremely long and angled crosswalks
  • trajectory path of NB Santa Cruz is directly at "Y" house (history of crashes)
  • lack of stop-yield lines
  • lack of safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians
  • proximity of traffic to pedestrians
  • distracted drivers
  • confusing plethora of too many traffic lights
  • etc.  (The list of issues is much to long)

 

A serious problem with County's Alt C, is that most of the existing risks and safety issues existing in the current intersecton are perpetuated and not solved.  This continuation of the dangers and safety risks in the Alt C design is understandable:   The 'new' Alt-C design is based on the same underlying faulty design we currently have.      This is why our community's proposed design (Safety Issue #10.5) is worth consideration, as it not only is simpler and results in a smaller, less confusing intersection, it also addresses all of the safety issues our community has documented.    

Below are some of the Pros/Cons based on an intersection designed based on the community's Safety Option #10.5 design. (This is the only design submitted that is based on recommendations from FHWA for skewed intersections and the Berkeley Pedestrian Safety Assessment.)  It also incorporates a Woonerf, a traffic calming feature for residents, pedestrians and cyclists.
  *  Alternatives A and B were dismissed, leaving only Alternative C and hopefully our Safety Option 10.5.

Pros of the Community 10.5 Design:

  • Addresses the blind corners at the intersection
  • Provides a major safety buffer for residents to separate residents from traffic flow by means of a woonerf (shared pathway for pedestrians, cyclists, and resident driveway)
  • Eliminates high speed turn design - without impacting traffic volume (reduces speed)
  • Much calmer traffic with fewer distracted drivers and greatly reduced confusion
  • Crosswalks are shortest possible and are perpendicular to traffic (no angles)
  • Approaches from Campo Bello and the North SCA segment are perpendicular (no skew)
  • Simplifies Traffic lights, eliminating  many of the current ones that cause confusion
  • Intersection is significantly narrower (30% smaller) - better visibility
  • Eliminates the skewed approaches as recommended by FHWA and Safe Routes
  • Improved visibility between pedestrians and traffic - Pedestrian safety is primary
  • High speed elements are removed - design based on speed limit speed - Not 50 mph expressway
  • Clearly marked bike lanes, with buffers, through intersection and approaches - all directions
  • Greenery for medians and islands to further emphasis on traffic calming and esthetics
  • Does not restrict volume of traffic - same amount of traffic flows, just calmer and at lower speed
  • Medians/islands - Uses color/texture and keeps them 1" or less height**  
  • ADA compliant Sidewalks no longer blocked by traffic poles and other obstacles

** Improves emergency response as medians and islands are flat  and do not  have curb high (4" to 8") obstacles.  Also flat or low medians/islands address address MPFD concerns about serioius accident potential that occurs when a motorist hits a curb high median -- typically the curb cause the car to swerve and loose control and even cross into oncoming traffic, sidewalk, or properties.

Cons:

  • Some motorists may resist - may prefer motorist centric thinking over pedestrian safety  
  • Greenery may require more maintenance unless choosen wisely
  • SB Alameda intersection is about 2 car lengths longer - increases line of sight distance on SB Alameda
  • The narrower design means extra roadway area is no longer needed or used - creates a question of what to do with that released land:  Return to property owners, add more greenery, ..?

 


Interactive Comparisons

Since Alternative A and Alternative B have been eliminated by County, those comparisons have been removed from this page. You can see those comparisons here:  A and B.  Below is an interactive comparison between Alternative C and the Community's Safe Issue option 10.5.  The Community design  substatially improves the intersection by simplifing the design, naturally reducing speed, and reducing the size of the intersection.  Areas in brown and light brown could be greenery or other taffic calming features (aka 'street furniture') -  that provide safety buffers to residential properties.

To compare Alternatives to Community's design, drag the vertical white line control to the left and right.

 


Alternative C -vs- Community Safe Option 10.5 (Slide white verticle bar to left or right)

 

Pros for Alt-C

  • Partially adresses blind corners
  • Curb Bulb out for southern crosswalk
  • Improvements in westside sidewalks
  • Partial bike lane guidance for bike lane headed to NB Alameda

Cons for Alt-C

  • Crosswalks have confusing layout with dangerous angles - longer than needed
  • East side Alameda sidewalk/pathway not ADA compliant (too narrow)
  • Retention of Expressway high speed slip lane
  • Conflict zones increased 
  • Excessively long medians block residents
  • Head on collision risk - SB Santa Cruz vs NB Campo Bello
  • Impedes Emergency Response
  • No safety buffer for SB Santa Cruz bike lanes
  • Retention of the Alameda SB Rt turn lane at CampoBello makes intersection wider
  • Excessive width of SB Santa Cruz approach to Alameda
  • NE middle corner still Blind - limited visibility
  • Added confusion and turn lanes associated with added islands on NE acute Y corner
  • Mis-alignment of SB Alameda at Campo Bello creates traffic flow swerve issue - traffic and cycling conflict
  • Crosswalks should be shorter and perpendicular
  • Pedestrians heightened risk due to traffic  


This image of Alt-C has callouts that point out various issues with the design and unaddressed safety problems.

Review of Alt-C design issues - annotated remarks


 

Comment count

8

Comments

Alt-C is not an improvement of what we have now. It does not address the speed of cars coming through the intersection and makes it harder to get into the homes in the Y.

As a pedestrian, this is not an improvement. I have witnessed most pedestrians continuing north on Alameda from the East side of Santa Cruz Avenue and walk directly into the street to follow the road instead of cross at the appropriate locations.

As a resident in the Y, I do not want an island right outside my front door. We cannot get into our property from the north and would have to navigate south past all the lane switching and make a u-turn to get into our driveway. This is worse than our current situation.

I also do not want a crosswalk coming directly into my house. I want to know exactly where street lights will be located to assure they are not in front of my property or line of sight through windows. If I take down my fence, the current plan has a crosswalk going directly into our home and I will not be able to reconfigure our driveway if we plan to remodel the property. Why would a crosswalk be permitted to direct people into the middle of a property.

10.5 has so much more improvements for calming and safety. I think we can move crosswalks and reduce the size of the island but the configuration makes more sense. Bike safety can be adjusted a bit for those going North and the sharp turns into Santa Cruz can be made more smooth. The turn from Santa Cruz onto Alameda can be improved as well.

There are two versions of 10.5 and it would be great to get the city planners to give recommendations on improving this option as it is the best option presented.

Thanks for putting these options together.

After more than 20 years living near the Y, I still have bad moments driving there. 10.5 is a wonderful solution and also in keeping with the times.
So many more people are out walking, jogging, biking this area since the pandemic. I think that trend will continue, especially if facilitated by the 10.5 design. Cities are closing streets, we can slow traffic.

Please adopt Plan 10.5. This design calms traffic far more efficiently and is more clear to drivers in all directions about where to turn, etc. Further, this design allows for better speed control.

The County must also figure out how to monitor excess speeding in the Y area, both on Santa Cruz Ave. and on the Alameda.

This is a thoughtful and safe plan.
It provides safety for residents, pedestrians and cyclists.
It slows traffic.
It is easy for drivers to follow.
Alt C is a confusing, complicated plan that does not slow traffic, impedes residents access to their own driveways.
The long crosswalks are dangerous for slow walkers. The multiple lanes will confuse drivers and increase accidents as they cut into other lanes.
The original survey was so frustrating because one had to choose a design before proceding to the next page - even if none were acceptable. One of the most flawed surveys I have ever seen.
What can we do to get the county to look again at 10.5?
A big thank you to those who came up with 10.5!

I think the community task force has worked hard and represented the regions and stakeholders of the community well. They came up with an alternate design they call "10.5a". 10.5a is full of very thoughtful and safety-promoting design features.

I really like the traffic calming that the curb/plantings aesthetic creates.

I like not having to go diagonally through an intersection where I'm halfway thru the intersection when it turns red (shorter, orthogonal intersections).

I like shorter crosswalks with great visibility of the pedestrians (mothers with walkers, children going to school, and me and my family and friends).

I like the ability of residents to safely pull out of their driveways into a buffer lane without fear of getting t-boned by a motorist in a hurry.

I like not having high-speed (large radius) turns to get people to slow down.

I like having traffic lights pointing at the correct lanes (not having to guess which light is mine since the County has a hard time pointing and shrouding the lights to limit visibility to only the intended drivers and cyclists).

Doesn't this look like the way the intersection should look and function? It does to me.

Great job and a shout out to the Task Force for continuing to work toward the best solution!

10.5 has my vote!

(but wait, I couldn't vote for it here on Survey Monkey - I hope somebody is reading this.)

I live off of Campo Bella. Retaining a signal to turn left out of Campo Bella is CRITICAL, and it does not appear that 10.5 includes such a signal. Please advise.

Otherwise, my family and I will be at risk every time we try to exit Campo Bella, as folks driving toward Sand Hill often accelerate at that point in their commute, and we wouldn't see them early enough if we were trying to turn left to leave our home.

As it is, people often run the light heading toward Sand Hill...we often experience "near misses" with people who would broadside our cars with their cars (and especially bikes)--even a couple of counts after our light turns green.

Andrew, 
First, all turns from Campo Bello are allowed and all are signalized.  
Second, option 10.5  fixes one of the dangerous problems that County has refused to fix:  That of insuring that the intersection fully clears from cross-traffic before traffic and pedestrian lights turn green.  This problem was documented years ago on the Immediate Safety Actions-Short Term-Low Cost webpage.  
Third, Option 10.5 eliminates the skewed intersections, making them like a normal intersection and this greatly improves visibility and motorist behavior.  Sight lines are clean and intersection less confusing -- This may not eliminate red light running, but it should greatly reduce them.