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.