Almanac

News - April 30, 2014

Town seeks quick analysis of cut-through traffic

• Traffic on Corte Madera Road is a driving factor.

by Dave Boyce

The Portola Valley Town Council is moving to address the problem of cut-through traffic on Corte Madera Road and its tributaries as parents from elsewhere in town seek out ways to more quickly transport their children to and from Corte Madera School. For now, the issue is in the hands of the town's Bicycle, Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee.

With the cut-through traffic an issue of some urgency, the Town Council at its April 23 meeting stressed the need for the committee to expedite its analysis of a traffic-calming policy for Portola Valley. The new policy would be based on a draft policy obtained from the town of Los Altos Hills.

Students who live in the neighborhood use Corte Madera Road to walk to and from school, but like the other roads in this area, it is narrow and has no sidewalks or paths.

Residents complained to the council in March about parents from other neighborhoods using Corte Madera to bypass the major Alpine Road intersections at Portola Road and Indian Crossing. Avoiding those intersections is also convenient for parents who have children across town at Ormondale Elementary School, residents said.

Working from the Los Altos Hills draft, the council commented on where that policy did not quite fit with Portola Valley's circumstances. One example: Los Alto Hills includes an escalating three-level response to a traffic-calming issue.

At Level 1, a town's options would include educating the public and collecting speed data. If the problem rises to Level 2, the town could address the problem with new landscaping or Botts dots on the road surface. At Level 3, the options include median strips, raised crosswalks and speed bumps.

There's some overlap in there as far as Portola Valley is concerned, said Councilman Craig Hughes, who proposed collapsing the three levels into two. His colleagues agreed.

In previous discussions, the council has appeared to coalesce around a simple solution: a temporary sign to regulate access to Corte Madera Road at specific times of day.

A sign would be inadequate, said Dean Asborno, a resident of Canyon Drive. He advised using a "forcing" mechanism such as speed bumps to strongly discourage drivers from bad behavior behind the wheel.

The issue is important enough to tolerate speed bumps in front of his house, Mr. Asborno said. "I don't think there's anything else that will be effective," he said. "It would slow people down and save somebody's life."

Since Portola Valley also has a problem with people parking along Portola Road when the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve parking lot fills up, Mr. Hughes suggested that perhaps the policy on traffic calming could take on parking as well.

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