Saturday, January 21, 2017

Highway 1 widening, short and long term suggestions

Pacifica Tribune/My Turn/Jim Wagner and Mark Stechbart, 1/19/17, "Highway 1 is Pacifica's lifeline."

Image result for Highway 1, Pacifica, CA picture
Highway 1 solution: retaining wall, and widening.
"Monday’s (Jan. 9) massive traffic backup due to the slide north of the police station once again taught us the critical importance of Highway 1 to our safety, commute and school drop-offs. Thousands of people were late to work and meetings; school lessons were disrupted; plane flights were missed. Upwards of a two-hour commute out of town made a mess of everything.
Nextdoor erupted with comments. Concerns were expressed over the daily commute congestion in this stretch of road. With the loss of a lane due to the slide, people questioned how we would get out of town quickly and safely in the event of a major disaster.

The short answer is you won’t anytime soon. But we do have some suggestions.
The area where the slide took place is a vertical unstable rock and dirt cliff. A recipe for disaster. Notice the west side road cut opposite the slide area. The west side is contoured at an angle and planted. No slide here.
The solution is obvious: make sure City Council immediately takes action to cut back the east side to an angle and rock stability that stops slides. Install a nice painted and sculpted retaining wall that looks like the walls around the Devil’s Slide tunnel. No more grey concrete. The temporary white crash barriers currently installed to corral rock falls can then be removed.

The long-term Highway 1 commute solution is also obvious. We need to adopt the current plan of one more lane north and south to take cars turning to Vallemar School and up Fassler, and the cars turning north, out of the main two traffic lanes until the turning cars can merge.
Image result for Highway 1 mudslide picture, Pacifica, CA picture
The ongoing alternatives (no solutions),
and potential hazards awaiting disaster.
Without turning cars slowing everyone down in the two main lanes, we have a faster commute. This has been talked about for 35 years. Witness the 2006 letter from then Pacifica Mayor DeJarnett: “This segment experiences heavy congestion during both morning and evening commutes.... Traffic engineering professionals ... view the proposed project (widening) as the only viable solution to the worsening traffic congestion.”
Will the new City Council pay attention to the clear wake-up call of this slide-induced commute mess? Not clear. We expect another round of debate over alternatives. Take the bus, ride share, work at home, ride your bike. If those suggestions had merit, folks would already be using them.

The newest “alternative” that we think is grasping at straws is light timing. Modern tech can somehow rig two traffic lights in a fashion that cures the commute congestion.
This issue will be before Council soon. May 6, 2013 was the last time light timing was evaluated by city staff and the actual light timing company (In/Sync). Councilmember Sue Digre set the meeting up but neglected to attend. The city manager’s report from the meeting says: “(Insync) said that synchronization would not result in any improvement in traffic flow during the peak periods…. the solution was to pursue a capacity increased improvement.”
Déjà vue all over again. 2006 Pacifica mayor letter says widen. 2013 light timing meeting says widen.

Will this City Council break the pattern of ignoring the obvious? We commute in cars. We drop students off at Vallemar School in cars. One more lane each way means we have an easier commute. And we can fix an unstable cliff waiting to slide again. Pacifica just had a wake-up call. Time to pay attention."
"Pacifica Tribune Editor’s Note: Jim Wagner and Mark Stechbart are long-term Pacifica residents. The documents referenced in the above My Turn column can be obtained through Public Records. 

Permission to reprint text by Jim Wagner and Mark Stechbart
Related comment.  "Council to Waste a Quarter of a Million Dollars. So we are going to spend $250,000 of money, designated for fixing our highway, on a system (InSync) that won't work when we need it!!? The company itself says it won't work during peak hours. Who's brilliant idea is this? Oh, let me guess. Is it the same council member that failed to show up for her own meeting with this company where they told the city it won't work a few years ago? hmmmmm. This is crazy. Fix the highway and quit fooling around. It's a choke point and it's dangerous."  (Jim Wagner)
Related 1/9/17 mudslide news articles. NBC Staff, video, 1:29 minutes, "Mudslide closes portion of Highway 1 in Pacifica". KRON4 Staff, video 13:05 minutes, video 13:25 min "Landslide closes NB Hwy 1 in Pacifica."    Note 1/9/17 photographs. Vehicle back-up image to Emily Kirschenheuter KRON4 tweet. "Landslide closes NB Hwy 1 in Pacifica."  Mudslide image to NBC Bay Area/South Bay/Staff,"Weekend Storms Shut Down Highways in Bay Area." "A mudslide about 3 a.m. Monday closed lanes on Highway 1 in Pacifica at Reina Del Mar."

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Fiscal Frank said...

If council goes ahead with this we get no relief and just another nobie project funded by the city. Ridiculous. We all should be very afraid this is the first out of the box for them. Be afraid.

Anonymous said...

This again? Not a snow ball's chance in hell that road will be widened so you better look into light timing and other solutions. Technology changes and it's been a few years. This council should be able to look into it with an open and honest mind.

Carl Common Sense said...

9:46, read the staff report for Monday night and take a look at what the company says about timing the lights and how they won't do anything for the traffic at peak and very little at any other time. The companies recommendation, increase capacity.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there some language somewhere (General Plan?, Local Coastal Plan?) that prohibits changes to the highway which results in an increase in capacity?

Anonymous said...

858 Too busy keeping up with Trump&Co gaffes and alternate facts to look at it. But, if it's the old report, get a new one. If it's a new report, you got a real problem 'cause they ain't never gonna widen that road. And, the universe got it's one-off freak moment for this century on 01/20/17, so this never, means never.

Anonymous said...

946, what solution does your open & honest mind suggest? The 946PM post is proof positive why thousands of pacifica commuters endure over a decade of unsafe commute hassles. Politics, ulterior motives, blind opposition. The report on the council agenda says this: "Rhythm Engineering, however, notes that In-Sync is not the solution to the peak-hour traffic along Highway 1. Peak-hour traffic is driven primarily by the traffic volume exceeding highway capacity."

Light timing does not work now, it did not work in 2013. No one takes the bus.

Anonymous said...

253 What you say has some truth, I don't dispute that. You might even win the argument on facts in some venue. You'd still get squat. That road will never be widened. Hey, maybe in our new Trumpian Dystopia, you can call it infrastructure improvement and get a bite. He's not so crazy about CA, but he is crazy. Move fast.

Anonymous said...

Not a particular fan of the Highway 1 widening, but for those that are, I believe that you are being short-sighted. Widening the road from Vallemar to the Rockaway light will only alleviate some of the congestion. Better option, although obviously less popular, would be to punch the widening all the way through to the Linda Mar light.

Go big or go home!

Anonymous said...

So when is it OK to waste $250,000 on something even the company that puts these things in says won't work?! Those of you who think this is such a good idea either refuse to read the report, or if you do you think it's a conspiracy. There is something wrong in your thinking.

Anonymous said...

8:24...I don't know that many people are claiming that light synching will solve the problem in its entirety, but it will help. So think of it as a piece of a larger set of alternatives that together will solve the problem. You can always widen if these smaller attempts don't work and I'm willing to try out a $350K solution before going whole-hog with a $60 million fix. It's the fiscally smart thing to do.

Anonymous said...

8:24, so like biking to work? Not! Walking? Not! Riding the bus? Not! Car pools? Not!
Look at a map of this city and look at a map of the wider bay area and where the employment centers are. Common sense tells you alternatives won't work in this situation. Continually pursuing that line only means you have some other goal. A reasonable person wouldn't think that wasting a quarter of a million dollars makes sense.

Incredulous Irvine said...

"Rhythm Engineering, however, notes that In-Sync is not the solution to the peak-hour traffic
along Highway 1. Peak-hour traffic is driven primarily by the traffic volume exceeding highway
capacity. However, the device is expected to reduce travel time during the periods before and
after peak-hour traffic. In-Sync will also be effective during minor mid-day congestion. And, with
the installation of cameras at intersections, the California Department of Transportation’s
(Caltrans) ability to monitor of Highway 1 from their Command Center in Oakland, CA, becomes
a possibility."

This is in the council report. So what does it do? Let Caltrans watch a piece of Pacifica highway and laugh saying, "why don't they let us fix that?"