Here are comments by Road Warrior readers:

Traffic mess in Sebastopol

Thanks for your forum to allow us to express concerns about things that our traffic people are doing (or not doing) to our traffic flows.  I apologize in advance if this sounds more brash than it should, but I am very frustrated with two things.

First:  During construction recently at The Barlow (the project in Sebastopol at Highway 12 and Morris — already a highly sensitive chokepoint)) street work at that intersection was under way to change left-turn lane configuration.  The traffic signals were taken off the trip/demand system that normally only releases the Morris Street traffic when vehicles are present and/or when the pedestrian walk/don’t walk button is pushed.  While the construction was under way, however, the system was changed to a strict timing regimen, whether there were cars on Morris Street or not, and the green light for the Morris traffic was much longer than it needed to be.  As a result, the westbound traffic on Highway 12 trying to get in to Sebastopol was backed up PAST Llano Road, a distance of nearly 2 miles and probably around 30-minute delays (I didn’t clock it).  People were making illegal U-turns on 12 trying to escape the backup. There were several near accidents.

I called Sebastopol public works and was told that Caltrans controlled the signal but that they would ask them to look at it.  Well, apparently they didn’t adjust anything. This problem only got worse during the afternoon and did not improve through the weekend (leaving it that way through the weekend is not excusable — how could that happen?).

Creating a 1- to 2-mile backup on a highway that is already stressed with heavy traffic even on a normal day is NOT OK, and it is also not OK to try to explain it away by saying “Well, there are often backups there” or “There is construction in that area.” (Duh!)

Second:  What our public servants (I was one for over 20 years) SHOULD be doing is to 1) carefully evaluate the impact of these kinds of projects before implementing workarounds,  2) plan alternatives and inform the public of the options, 3) react when things are going badly and diminish any unexpected effects of projects.  It is NOT OK to just leave a bad system in place just because it’s the weekend.

Note to our traffic departments:  These things should not be taking you by surprise.  If they do, then you aren’t as aware of your traffic environments as you should be (bad), and if they don’t take you by surprise, then you aren’t doing your job to foresee and mitigate the impacts (worse).  It is not OK to do nothing, when traffic is backed up over a mile at non-peak times and safety, efficiency, and emissions (in other words, the citizens whom you serve) are heavily impacted.


Danger at Highway 116/Occidental Road

I live in Graton and have seen multiple near misses at the intersection of Hwy 116 and Occidental Rd with drivers who are making a left turns from Occidental Rd onto Hwy 116. There is no left turn signal allowing cars to make the turn safely from Occidental Rd onto 116 so they have to gauge if the oncoming traffic is coming straight at them or if they are going to make a turn themselves. Because of this, the traffic backs up a bit and so then drivers make the decision if they are going straight through the intersection to pass the turning drivers on the right, and sometimes then get into games of chicken with the drivers turning left from the other direction.

Seems like it would be easy to add the left turn only signal for drivers on Occidental Rd, as they have it for drivers on 116 turning on to Occidental Rd.



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