Police say there were a few start-up problems as Atherton began a planned 10-week closure of Marsh Road on Tuesday (May 31) as the town rebuilds a drainage culvert, but they expect motorists will soon realize they need to follow detours or avoid the area.
Atherton police say they did not issue any citations related to the Marsh Road closure on Tuesday. Sgt. Anthony Kockler said there was a report of road rage near Menlo-Atherton High School and some neighbors complained of cars cutting through their neighborhoods instead of using the suggested detours leading to Woodside Road and 5th Avenue in Redwood City or Willow Road in Menlo Park.
"We would really appreciate if they would follow those detour routes that have been set," Sgt. Kockler said.
He said motorists who ignore signs warning of no through traffic can be cited for disobeying traffic signs if they cut through on posted streets.
Flaggers were stationed in a couple of locations off Marsh Road to turn back drivers who did not have a placard showing they were local residents or their guests.
"I think it's going to take a couple of days for people to get used to it," Sgt. Kockler said.
Atherton's traffic officers "will be out there as much as possible," he said, working on "education and enforcement." So far, he said, they have given only warnings.
"The first couple days are pretty rough, and then people get the message, 'I can't go that way, I'm going to have to go another way,' " he said.
Not driving through the nearby neighborhoods is a good idea for more than avoiding irritating the residents, he said, noting that on the major streets, there is less chance of a collision and of getting lost.
Many of the local nearby streets also have traffic-calming measures, or even barriers, to slow down traffic. "There's kids (who) play out there; there's people backing out of driveways," he said.
The Atherton Police Department is getting some help for the first week of the closure from the California Highway Patrol, he said.
His advice for the public: "Follow the detour routes - expect delays."
Or they could do what he's doing for his commute to work in Atherton take Interstate 280 instead of 101 and avoid the mess altogether.
See a related story about the project.