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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.
- 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, ..?
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.