On Monday, December 9, city staff and the Coronado Transportation Commission conducted the first of three public workshops on the planned study of the traffic issues of Third and Fourth Streets and potential solutions to them. Approximately 100 residents were in attendance.
The objectives of the workshop were the following:
The meeting was dominated by discussion of speeding on Third and Fourth Streets and the perceived lack of traffic enforcement. The high level of frustration by members of the audience with the traffic on Third and Fourth Streets was very evident as was the belief that the laws are not being enforced. One resident who lives on Fourth Street stated that his car was hit twice in a 10-day period. The second time it was totaled. Another resident stated that their house has been hit by a speeding car.
Police Chief Jon Froomin described his Department’s enforcement resources and efforts noting that from November 2012-November 2013 420 citations were issued to drivers on Third and Fourth Streets. A resident responded that only 58 of these tickets were for speeding on Fourth Street. The Chief noted that 86 of the tickets were for speeding. He went on to explain that enforcement of the speed limit on Third and Fourth Streets has been frustrated by the courts, which do not believe that the speed limits were established based on a credible speed survey. In response officers stop vehicles and issue citations for other reasons, for example, expired plates, and take the opportunity to caution motorists about speeding. He went on to state that in September Caltrans provided a letter that attests to the validity of the survey that was used to establish the speed limits on Third and Fourth Streets. The Chief is hopeful that tickets issued since the letter was received will not be overturned by the courts.
The audience complained about the noise created by motorcycles at all hours and very loud car stereos and questioned the ability of the police to issue tickets for excessive noise. Chief Froomin stated that motorcycles are the subject of different requirements than automobiles regarding noise. He stated that citations can be issued if there is an apparent mechanical issue.
A member of the audience recommended that the toll plaza settlement funds should be used to pay for increased traffic enforcement on Third and Fourth Streets. She argued that the funds are intended to mitigate the impact of removing the tolls from the bridge on Third and Fourth Streets and Orange Avenue. Others in the audience stated that this was a good idea but other, more long term, measures are needed.
The fact that Third and Fourth Streets are a state highway was also discussed. In response to the question about why the city would allow a state highway to “cut through” residential neighborhoods, it was explained that the streets were designated as state highways when the bridge was built. As a state highway the streets are controlled by the state’s highway authority, Caltrans. Accordingly, any improvements made to these streets need to be approved by Caltrans, which is very conservative. It was noted that control of the streets could be “relinquished” to the city. A resident’s statement that “we need to take back the streets” was met by applause from the audience.
Transportation Commission Chairman Michael Giorgione described the Navy’s efforts to reduce the volume of traffic on Third and Fourth Streets. He explained the Commission’s ongoing dialogue with Navy officials and that the Navy is responsive to public input and complaints. The Navy completed a commuter survey in January 2013 and a study of its entry control points in May 2013. Giorgione noted that Navy personnel participate in 100 vanpools and the Navy is increasing its marketing of vanpools. Also, in cooperation with SANDAG the Navy will provide financial incentives for the formation of carpools as part of a pilot program beginning in 2014. Reinstituting Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus service on NAS North Island is also being evaluated. Giorgione stated that the largest variable regarding the amount of traffic that is generated by the Navy is the number of carriers that are in port. The city has been fortunate that the carriers have been deployed a great deal of the time. This could change in the future and at some point there could be as many as three carriers in port.
The audience made several suggestions regarding actions that could be taken by the Navy to lessen the impact of the traffic created by its personnel. Most of these suggestions consisted of efforts to encourage better behavior. One idea was to distribute leaflets to drivers as they exit the base that emphasize their obligation to drive responsibly.
The city’s Director of Engineering Ed Walton presented Coronado’s circulation goals and policy, which include maximizing use of the existing arterial and collector street system thereby reducing traffic intrusion into residential neighborhoods while preserving and improving Coronado as a beautiful, residential community. Third and Fourth Streets, along with the majority of Orange Avenue, are classified as major arterial roads. He went on to explain the history of the speed limits on Third and Fourth Streets and how speed limits are established. (Earlier in the meeting Commission Chairman Giorgione had stated that it is the goal of the Transportation Commission to achieve an actual speed limit of 25mph, that is, that the majority of the traffic is actually traveling at or below the speed limit. This goal will be accomplished through the implementation of appropriate traffic calming strategies.) Walton concluded his presentation by summarizing the improvements that have been made to Third and Fourth Streets and planned improvements, which include a drainage project to alleviate localized flooding on Third and Fourth Streets.
Transportation Commission Member John Tato presented the results of the resident survey. The goal of this part of the presentation was to gain additional insights into the reasons why the residents support or oppose specific potential engineering strategies for addressing the traffic issues on Third and Fourth Streets.
The city received 301 completed surveys. The respondents identified the following issues as their major concerns:
Traffic signals at Third and Fourth Streets at B Avenue, Alameda Boulevard, and F Avenue were supported by a majority of the respondents. However, traffic signals at H Avenue were opposed by slightly more respondents than supported signals at these intersections.
While the installation of traffic signals is supported by a majority of all respondents, the level of support varies by where the respondents live. Signals at B Avenue are strongly supported by residents who live on the bridge side of Orange Avenue but are opposed by a majority of the residents who live on the NASNI side of Orange Avenue. Signals at Alameda Boulevard are generally supported; however, residents who live on the NASNI side of Orange Avenue are evenly split between support and opposition.
While the degree of support is smaller, all of the subgroups of respondents, for example, residents who live on the NASNI side of Orange Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets, support traffic signals at F Avenue. In the case of the signals at H Avenue, residents who live on Third and Fourth Streets and on the bridge side of Orange Avenue are the most supportive, while a significant majority of the residents who live on the NASNI side of Orange Avenue oppose signals at these intersections.
Other potential strategies for addressing the traffic issues on Third and Fourth Streets have widely divergent levels of support. Increasing the length of red curbs on Third and Fourth Streets, installing pedestrian activated warning lights at crosswalks on Third and Fourth Streets, and marking intersections to discourage them from being blocked by traffic are supported by very wide margins. Four other measures are supported more than opposed by varying margins. Only two potential strategies are more opposed than supported: reducing the width of the traffic lanes on Third and Fourth Streets from 11 feet to 10 feet and replacing the parking on Third and Fourth Streets with wider landscaped parkways.
Like traffic signals, the support for potential strategies varies by where the survey respondents live. Respondents who live on the bridge side of Orange Avenue support all of the potential strategies. Other groups varied in their levels of support and opposition. For example, residents who live between Third and Fourth Streets on the NASNI side of Orange Avenue strongly support wider landscaped parkways but oppose the installation of additional bulbouts.
The workshop concluded with a summary of the next steps. The results of the survey and feedback received at the workshop will be analyzed and taken into consideration in developing the consultant’s scope of work. The consultant will evaluate the impact of alternative engineering strategies for addressing the traffic issues on Third and Fourth Streets. The analysis will quantify the benefits of different strategies including the extent to which they will support the city’s circulation goals and policy. Proposals will be solicited and the consultant contract awarded. A second public workshop will be conducted at this point to introduce the consultant and present the scope of work and the consultant’s work plan. The preliminary results of the study will be briefed at a third workshop. The effort will conclude with the incorporation of the study’s results into a comprehensive traffic calming plan that will be presented to the City Council for approval.
This article is reprinted by permission as part of a collaboration between Coronado CAN! and eCoronado.com to enable residents to stay more informed about civic issues, with the ultimate goal of better protecting and preserving Coronado's small town character and charm.
To read more articles like this one or learn more about this non-profit, non-partisan, all-volunteer organization, visit the Coronado CAN! website.
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