Traffic calming fever in Pleasanton

More speed bumps, turn restrictions, electronic radar feedback signs coming as traffic increases

There's a new lexicon for traffic engineers in Pleasanton: It's traffic calming.

Ever since a neighborhood on Kolln Street persuaded a long-past City Council to erect a board barricade where their street crosses Valley Avenue (at a traffic signal, no less), others have sought the same. For a while, metering lights were tried on Sunol Boulevard and Vineyard Avenue to discourage "cut-through" traffic.

Turn restrictions during certain hours also have been posted on streets near schools to keep drivers from using these neighborhood streets to take kids to classes.

Those going to Alisal Elementary have to use busy Santa Rita Road instead of Kolln. School hour right-and left-turn restrictions on Bernal at Puerto Vallarto prevent Hearst Elementary and Pleasanton Middle School parents from driving through Pleasanton Hills. Even the back gate to the Amador Valley High campus was locked after Gatetree Circle neighbors complained of too many students being dropped off on "their" street.

Now, with another 8,000 or so more residents about to move into high-density apartment complexes being built here, traffic issues are dominating Planning Commission and City Council meetings. Riddle Street and Laurel Creek Drive neighborhoods won approval for traffic calming measures for their neighborhoods.

Two electronic radar feedback signs will be installed in the Preserve neighborhood where the traffic flow has reached 1,500 vehicles a day. Right turns will be prohibited for eastbound motorists on Dublin Canyon onto Laurel Creek, which will require commuters to continue on to Foothill Road and double back, including motorists who live there.

Commuters on Sunol Boulevard heading for I-680 in the mornings also have been using Riddle Street to avoid nagging backups at the southbound 680 metering light. They'll be blocked by a new "No Right Turn" restriction at Riddle during peak morning commute hours. Of course, anyone living in the 25 homes on Riddle coming from Raley's with their morning groceries also will now have to make the circuitous drive on Happy Valley Road to get back to their homes.

More restrictions are coming. At a recent City Council meeting, traffic engineer Mike Tassano won approval to expedite the city's traffic calming program by adding more and expensive electronic radar feedback signs ($20,000 each, plus maintenance), installing "bulb-out" and road-narrowing chicanes, more turn restriction signs and adding speed lumps if neighborhoods want them.

In fact, speed lumps are the popular choice of neighborhoods that see traffic speeding by their homes. Four have been added on Crellin Road, more are headed for Black Avenue and even shopping centers are installing them.

The council appropriated $50,000 a year to add more, which Tassano said will provide the needed bumps and large yellow warning signs for two neighborhoods a year. He said there are currently nine neighborhoods on the city's traffic calming list with residents there already complaining about potentially having to wait nine years before their bids are recognized.

Clearly, as more speed lumps, radar signs and other traffic calming devices are installed, adjoining neighborhoods will want them, too. Expect to see Tassano back before the council soon to ask for more money.

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5 people like this
Posted by Alexey
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 18, 2016 at 8:15 am

My personal pet peeve are bumps that cannot be traversed at the posted speed limit like on Mission Rd in Sunol - either fix the speed limit or the bumps, but I agree - people should not drive fast on residential streets.

6 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 18, 2016 at 8:35 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Well, we all will have to increase our carbon foot print, drive a little further, a little longer, spew out additional pollution so the BAAQMD can declare more spare the air days. This is absolutely necessary so residents on Laurel Creek Drive will have less cut through traffic.

8 people like this
Posted by AR15
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 18, 2016 at 9:35 am

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I agree with the 2 above. "Traffic calming" has that social engineering ring to it. If you want to see the land of restrictive signs, barricades and one way streets, go to Berkeley or S.F. Speed bumps are unsightly, and if you have to slow down and speed up, there is wear and tear on your car plus more pollution/less mileage.
I think traffic is well managed in Ptown so far, but 8000 more residents is exactly what we don't need, and I hope that comes to a stop.
I would like to see this money put into more enforcement, because speeding is against the law. People need to respect residential areas and other drivers. This would give us the added benefit of more police.

Like this comment
Posted by Another
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 18, 2016 at 10:00 am

[Removed pending verification]

15 people like this
Posted by Long Time P-towner
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Nov 18, 2016 at 10:05 am

One of the dumbest, most stupid recent traffic light solutions thanks to our wonderful, smart traffic engineers was putting those new lights at Amador HS. One light has been needed and should should have been constructed at Jensen Street and Santa Rita Road. That area is dangerous, not only at school commute times but ALWAYS! Over the years, students have been hit there, including a friend of my daughter while attending Amador.
Where do OUR traffic engineers live and where are their brains?!! During the decision, discussion that took place when blocking Kolln at Valley was being heard, an engineer came right and said he didn't care or it didn't matter because he didn't live other words, "MINBY," so I could care less!

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Posted by Long Time P-towner
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Nov 18, 2016 at 10:10 am

Correction - Supposed to be "NIMBY" and only one should above...sorry.

15 people like this
Posted by Jetson
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 18, 2016 at 10:38 am

Jetson is a registered user.

I would like to see turn lights added at Main Street and Del Valle. In the morning trying to make a left onto Del Valle during school drop off time is difficult. You take your life in your hands. Also with the new high density going in by McDonalds on Bernal that is going to add so many more cars coming down First street in the morning trying to get to 680. Anything in the works to help ease that situation I wonder. Does our city council actually live in this town, do they just not care??

14 people like this
Posted by Vintage Hills Mom
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Nov 18, 2016 at 10:47 am

Vintage Hills Mom is a registered user.

I support traffic calming in neighborhoods. At times, I can barely back out of my driveway as the "cut-through" traffic races by my home. I would really like an explanation as to why the signals on the "major roads" are not in sync. I sit at red lights on Bernal/Valley, at the new light at Utah, then sit at Stanley, Boulder, Busch, Quarry Lane, Kolln and Santa Rita. After I make my right turn onto Santa Rita, I sit at red lights at Mohr and Stoneridge. After I make my left turn onto Stoneridge, I sit at most of the red lights at the each intersection, (I will spare you the list for each light between Santa Rita and the freeway on Stoneridge). The lights should sync so you can drive the speed limit between the signals and not have to stop at every intersection. To avoid these red lights, I have seen many cars dodging slower traffic and race at speeds much higher than the speed limit to avoid the red lights and race through the green before it turns. I would love an explanation from Mike Tassano as to why the signals are programmed to favor the less traveled streets. The new light at Utah is the newest hazard as this signal turns red frequently for traffic and pedestrians and causes back up on both sides on Bernal and no one yet lives in the apartment homes in that complex. It is a crazy city that allows cars to travel as excessive speeds in neighborhoods and slows traffic down on the major streets.

8 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2016 at 11:08 am

FrequentWalkerMiles is a registered user.

I agree with Vintage Hills Mom, the predictably bad timing of lights on major artery roads is getting worse. I suspect there is no real mechanism in place for syncing at all, the frequent red lights we see are just result of more and more people turning onto the main roads, and even the right turn people are triggering the red lights for the through traffic.

I would hate to think that the city traffic planner is taking orders from someone above the city level, and intentionally trying to make everyone stop more and use more gas to get going again, in an effort to keep more people on surface streets and away from freeways...

20 people like this
Posted by Jim Van Dyke
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Nov 18, 2016 at 11:22 am

Jim Van Dyke is a registered user.

As a 29-year resident and business owner, traffic calming efforts have my full support. Change is inevitable, and you can either whine (also known as "griping and name-call on message boards while using an anonymous identity"), or you can get involved to contribute to the future-state of things. I've found the transportation team to be very open to outside participation, and even with those who don't always agree with every little detail of what they do for instance (I'm referring to me, as just one example!). As we get older and the Bay Area prosperity brings more population, we all need to be open to significant change. One solution that is sure to make a person smile more, see more, connect more, live healthier and longer, and frown less: walk or bike to your next destination. What if we each left our 3,500 pound steel cage in the driveway just once a week, walking or biking to leave more space for other motorists? If we each did that, these traffic calming measures wouldn't be necessary so soon.

(And yes, I really do always use my real name on this forum, and nothing bad ever happens. What if we all stopped hiding who we are?)

14 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Nov 18, 2016 at 11:46 am

res1 is a registered user.

We have the technology to sync the lights better. We spend A LOT of money on each of those lights and they are all connected through the city traffic computers.

I agree that the light at Utah is horrible as it turns red as soon as another care want to make a turn or come from the other street. In fact, for now, I would leave that light off until there are residents at the apartments and we see what the traffic will be. We are being punished right now, even before the impact of the development is there. There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for that light at the moment.

I also agree that people speed in town because it is the only way to make a green light. Once you get a green light, if you see a green light at the next intersection, you must speed up in order to catch it while it is still green. The traffic engineers have programmed us to speed up.

I am starting to do a lot of my shopping in Livermore now as it is quicker to drive to locations there than Pleasanton because of the excessive stoplights in Pleasanton. Also, why do we have more people in the planning department than the traffic department? I think our city has more of a traffic problem than a planning problem. We could probably use somebody who is a "big data" expert to look at the data from our traffic systems and come up with better optimized algorithms. We should also apply for some air quality grants for this. If we improve traffic, our air quality will be better and we will waste less gas/electricity.

As for cut through and speeding, in addition to fixing the arterial streets, we need to enforce the laws. When should those who obey the laws be penalized for those who do not? There are technologies out there that can monitor and send warning letters and photos to those who have violated the laws. Perhaps send a community officer to their house to "chat" with them. I don't want speed bumps on every street in town.

12 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Nov 18, 2016 at 11:50 am

res1 is a registered user.

To Jim, I would like to ride my bike more but I still find it too dangerous to ride many streets in Pleasanton. I know the city is working on it and hope the green bike paths and other solutions can help but wish there were some dividers. I ride my bike in Pleasanton when I can but it is not all that safe and not easy to shop and carry items back in a bike. It is also annoying to keep getting "run over" by those bike riders in their spandex. They are doing a disservice to getting better bike routes in Pleasanton. Many/most of them do not care about traffic laws.

5 people like this
Posted by DT
a resident of Foothill High School
on Nov 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm

DT is a registered user.

Can the neighborhood behind Foothill HS get in on this? There are so many parents dropping their kids off behind the school / so they can walk through the park that the line to turn left/right/straight at Muirwood and Las Positas is at least a mile or 2 long in the mornings btwn 7:40-8am and 8:40-9am and the right/straight lane is often stopped when the light is green while kids are crossing that intersection. So it takes a few light cycles to finally get through the intersection. Thanks!

6 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Ironwood
on Nov 18, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Don is a registered user.

Traffic is very important to me because I deal with every day as a crossing guard in Pleasanton. I've been doing this for 10 years and every year the traffic gets worse. It is a city wide problem around all the schools here and also in other cities. Every morning and afternoon is is a total mess and people are in a hurry to get to their respective jobs or pick up their child and get home from work. The PPD cannot be everywhere all the time, and it seems they are experiencing other things that require attention, for the safety of all the residents within our city.

4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 18, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Jim Van Dyke is a stand up guy.
Jim Van Dyke posts comment using his real name.

1 person likes this
Posted by bettinab
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 18, 2016 at 10:19 pm

bettinab is a registered user.

The SF Bay Area is growing and so is Pleasanton. Because we all want to live here in a nice community we will have to rethink transportation and traffic calming is part of it. We all want to live in a quite neighborhood.

We have to start to use alternative transportation whenever possible: walking, biking, using busses.

Just think about the additional benefit of getting exercise at the same time. And it is proven that kids perform better in school when they get some exercise such as walking to school in the morning. Why not walk to school together with your kids?

Let's not blame one or the other and particularly, let's start a real conversation between people, not anonymous avatars.

3 people like this
Posted by Bettina Baumgart
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 18, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Bettina Baumgart is a registered user.

And by the way, our city government is very good about listening to us, when you have an issue why not email them.

7 people like this
Posted by caywen
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 20, 2016 at 10:32 am

caywen is a registered user.

I lived in SF for 12 years in the sunset. Our street (21st ave) had no speed bumps. Cars would regularly "gun it" down the street. One day, I saw a car decide to gun it hard and sped down the street at 60mph. near the end, it spun out of control and hit parked cars. Those cars are the only reason it didn't end up on the sidewalk or someone's garage. I was standing with my daughter about 40 feet away from where it impacted. It could have conceivably been us.

After I moved here, I thought that wouldn't occur again - Pleasanton is such a nice, calm town. Lo and behold, I see a Camino gun it down Black avenue, fishtailing around the bend. It didn't hit anything, but I was shocked. Were there speed bumps, that would likely not have occurred.

Speed bumps might not be as pretty as we'd all like, but I support putting them in in our neighborhoods.

9 people like this
Posted by PTownGirl
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Nov 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

PTownGirl is a registered user.

I wish the traffic signals in Pleasanton were synced much better. The sensors are terrible and you sit at a red light when no one is even at the signal that is green. When you drive through Dublin the signals let you get through the intersections, in Pleasanton that does not happen, which I think causes Red Light Runners. Just seems to me Dublin has this situation squared away. Pleasanton does not.

Muirwood at West Las Positas is a lost cause. Ever since the light was installed traffic is far worse. A right turn lane onto EB Las Positas would have helped the flow immensely. I walk in the mornings and every school day traffic is backed up to Luckys going to FHS. Sad Sad Sad :-(

5 people like this
Posted by Also Concerned
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

Also Concerned is a registered user.

They put speed bumps on Black Avenue between Santa Rita and Harvest. Please put speed bumps on Black Avenue
between Hopyard and Hansen Drive. I did call the street maintenance and they had someone come out. They said the average speed was just 30 miles which was just above 25. I can't tell you how many times at the intersection to get across Hopyard before the light changes that the speed goes WAY UP!

13 people like this
Posted by Hotslide
a resident of Oak Tree Acres
on Nov 22, 2016 at 11:43 am

Hotslide is a registered user.

Who the hell pegged staggering auto congestion "traffic calming" ? Sounds like a term that was generated from one of our babysitting universities. I'm retired and don't even try to run any errands until after 10:00. Traffic is backed up to Stoneridge drive, 4-5 lanes wide on 680 all the way to the south bay on workdays well into the morning. Now our permanent governor and real estate laden councils have mandated that we must increase our population by 8,000 here to comply with their idea that it is somehow "necessary". And the term " community" is not the term I would use to describe the area bricked in from here to Martinez with homes and apartments, demarcated by east to west streets like Dublin Blvd. The apartments and condos spilling over the hills in east Dublin should be a hint that the growth some people are excited about will not abate soon. I think "traffic gridlock" will be a more appropriate description of this issue quite soon. In real terms, there are no checks on growth like this when real estate and development entities are in charge.

7 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2016 at 10:19 am

Local is a registered user.

I have never seen autos & bikes dueling it out in a controlled track event.
In a controlled track event! ...maybe because it would be extremely stupid and suicidal. Painting green does not create space, same danger exists. Wrong to even suggest. Wrong to tell drivers to just SLOW down and
double the time you're running your engine. There are varying degrees of
biker skills, some (including younger students) are quite incompetent, thinking I'm visible, so I'm safe. I would not allow anyone I loved to
mix it up with 2,000 lb car. When there are accidents, it seems drivers
get blamed, wrongly, but blamed. There are many too young and too old, and
too unskilled cyclists. There are 24 hours in a day, but 7- 9 am; 11- 1:00, and 3:00 right through to 6:00p, would be an inappropriate and suicidal
decision, but their own personal risky 'choice' for a cyclist. Just like a pedestrian can stop with a foot suspended mid-air, a 2,000 car can not stop
in a blink of an eye, like the walker can. I am against wrongful imprisonment of skilled drivers, because of bad personal choices of others, often thinking of dropping books, or hair in the eye.. I do not think a narrow space is any safer because it is painted green! At certain times it
it still too much, squeezed into too little...bad fit!
Certain streets, and certain intersections, should not allow bikes period. but definitely not at those 3, morning, noon, 3:00, & eve commute, which
seems to be starting at 4:00. So, back to, certain streets/intersections
should not allow bikes periods.. Maybe they could have green bike paths
though the 'nearby' neighborhoods, that have been conveniently 'protected'
with what amounts to 'private' streets, forcing all 2,000 pounders on to
key streets, where bikes should NOW be banned.

11 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Local is a registered user.

Remind me again, why was it we dug under the railroad and built a trestle? Oh yes, to get all the East side get to that new, world class, job center. Then proceeded to shut off all other streets, rendering them all 'private' streets, a sweet from the city, and dumping all traffic from Livermore, Vintage Hills, and the new yet-to-be- built Ruby Hill, on the new, previously blocked Valley Ave the only way to get to the job center.
All those people now have to battle with that only way to the
job center. The thought of even 'allowing' bicycles on that stretch is absurd. It would be criminal to consider throwing obstacles on that route.
Alternate 'bicycle' routes to 'bypass' the single job-center route, is what must be considered, ...around all those many dead ends. Hacienda seems to resist a logical 'google' type shuttle. Without or without, it would be a
crime to consider adding bicycle threats on the only route (from the East) to our 'job center' which is the life blood to our city.
Nice serene bike paths would be more suited to those neighboring 'protected' streets than mixing it up with 2,000 lbs cars, who are just doing their business of getting to our business park to keep the city coffers full.

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Posted by Gene
a resident of Happy Valley
on Nov 23, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Gene is a registered user.

I'm a 680 commuter and experience the awful commute home on 680 northbound most evenings. Does anyone know why the metering lights installed at all the onramps from Auto Mall Parkway to North Mission Blvd are never functional? When three lanes of traffic are flowing at 60 mph, about 180 cars a minute pass through. However, when excess cars are allowed on the freeway and traffic slows to a 5 mph crawl, only about 15 cars a minute pass through. It seems like if the metering lights were activated and controlled access to the freeway so as to not let too many cars on at a time, everyone would get to where they are going faster. We aren't utilizing the full capacity of the freeway during our commute hours.

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Posted by Jetson
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 30, 2016 at 9:47 am

Jetson is a registered user.

@ Gene. I feel for you I did that miserable commute for 7 years. I was finally lucky enough to find a job here in town this year. My understanding is they installed the metering lights in anticipation of adding a pay lane between Milpitas and Pleasanton North bound that is suppose to open in 2018. The information is on this web page. I tried holding out until then and keep working in Silicon Valley but I just couldn't do it anymore.

Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by LaxDad3
a resident of Foothill High School
on Nov 30, 2016 at 12:40 pm

LaxDad3 is a registered user.

@Gene. On Nov 16, the Mr. Roadshow (Gary Richards) column included:

Q The metering lights to 680 at Auto Mall Parkway and Washington Boulevard are also not turned on. This is one of the causes of daily major backlogs on 680 to the Livermore exit. Can you please help?
Arunesh Das

A Finally, yes. Caltrans hopes to turn on meters at these three ramps early next year, maybe even by this Christmas. That would be a nice gift for the thousands stuck in this daily slog.

In addition, plans are moving ahead to install meters from the Sunol Grade north to Interstate 580. They’ll be under construction by this time next year and working by 2019.

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