San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) wants to widen Highway 1/Calera Parkway to six lanes. (See the comment thread below this post to follow community reactions and updates following the June 22 public meeting and comment period.) The stated purpose of the proposed project is to reduce congestion from approximately a half mile north of Reina Del Mar Avenue to approximately a quarter mile south of Fassler/Rockaway Beach avenues, a distance of some 1.3 miles. But many Pacificans and others believe that widening the highway would harm adjacent wetlands, not solve traffic problems in the long term, blight the landscape with high retaining walls on both sides of the road, and cost as much as $50 million. Stay tuned to this space for new developments in the widening debate.
PUBLIC INFORMATION CONTACTS: SMCTA Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) member Jim Vreeland (Pacifica City Council), CAC Vice Chair Barbara Arietta at 415-246-0775 or [email protected], SMCTA Headquarters at 650-508-6283 and http://www.smcta.com/
SMCTA's package includes 11 traffic alternatives but studies only two, both to widen the road: SEE COASTSIDER ANALYSIS
Highway 1 Segmentation History: Calera Parkway Agreement, January 22, 1958
I gotta bring it up again, Steve. Do you have property you are hoping to develop in Pescadero or Davenport? This plan won't help anybody else. Having to leave three or eight minutes earlier for the next 20 years won't make a significant difference in the lives of Pacifica commuters. Having their commute look like Los Angeles will affect them, and the effect of having all potential out-of-town business sail by at a clip will definitely adversely affect Pacifica businesses. I thought you were a pro-business kind of guy. How come you aren't with me on this one yet? I have customers who are reliant on people finding it easy to get off Highway 1 to do business. Any one of the plans suggested could contribute to their early demise.
Posted by: Dan B. Underhill | July 18, 2010 at 09:10 PM
The proposed illegal segment of freeway that SMCTA wants to create will cause traffic to go through Pacifica, right past the fun Rockaway district. More cement, just like Daly City. And yes, folks, this is part of the plan to extend freeways onto the coastside of Pacifica. All the way down to the new stoplight at Pescadero, and points south.
Posted by: Kathy Jana | July 17, 2010 at 04:29 PM
R. Jacobs: Both the school and increased public transit were discussed at the June 22 meeting.
If I remember right, SMCTA said the school was responsible for about 3 percent of the traffic congestion on Highway 1 during the morning rush hour, and had no effect on the evening commute. It also said that the decrease in traffic during the summer had very little to do with the school, and was a result of the general decrease in traffic seen everywhere during the summer.
As for increasing bus service, it said that to accommodate projected traffic increases, it would take anywhere from 70 to 90 additional bus runs just during the commute period to keep traffic on Highway 1 from getting worse. Given the cost, SMCTA obviously ruled that out.
At the June 22 meeting, SMCTA and Caltrans went through pretty much all of the objections and alternatives that have been discussed, and explained in some detail why the highway widening made the most sense.
From what I can tell, the main objection the highway-widening opponents have left is to claim a hidden agenda between SMCTA and Caltrans to turn Highway 1 into a big freeway. One guy even got up at the meeting and insisted that this was all part of a local government conspiracy to resurrect the plan to extend I-380 into Pacifica.
Posted by: Steve Sinai | July 17, 2010 at 12:05 PM
I am opposed to the plans proposed to widening Highway 1 between Fassler and Reina Del Mar Avenues. As far as I know, the plans do not consider the impact of using a fraction of the money (currently allocated for widening) for SamTrans Express routes that have recently been eliminated. Nor do the plans consider the impact of using a fraction of the money for an additional Park/Ride lot alongside the highway.
Much of the traffic congestion in the morning is caused by the Pacifica School District’s (“PSD”) Open Registration policy, which allows parents to enroll their children at any school in the district. With the absence of any worthwhile school bus program, this has severely impacted traffic. As far as I know, the plans proposed for widening Highway 1 do not consider the impact of using a fraction of the money to buy reliable school bus service within Pacifica. Nor do the plans consider the impact of using a fraction of the money for a pickup/drop off point alongside the highway for students.
Can you explain if these options have been considered? If so, what would be the percentage decrease on traffic between 8:00am – 8:30am as well as 5:30pm – 6:00pm?
Posted by: R Jacobs | July 16, 2010 at 03:15 PM
Hello, all. I live in Los Angeles, so may have no business posting here. But I am VERY concerned about wetlands no matter where they are. And you talk about traffic jams, why not come to L.A.! We have sometimes 5 lanes in each direction and every time they added a lane, traffic was great, for a while, then it's back to normal. The real solution to this problem is population control, not taking of wetlands and destroying hillsides and their natural infrastructures. While we can do nothing about the people already here and the current traffic problem is the issue (if there really is a problem), I suggest taking out the traffic lights. Then nobody has to stop! And if there are tons of kids during school months in SUVs, why not institute a busing program and give people more work. This will also help to reduce our carbon footprint. Those who say there is no global warming must certainly be going home each night to another planet. I have visited northern California many times and each time I go, it is a little more developed and a little more....If you say some are against the plan to avoid another Daly City in your area, I say "You go guys!!" I truly feel most of the people in our country these days are sick of the rampant development unleashed in this capitalistic country. Why not try to slow down and enjoy the journey. I'd be slowing down if there were a wetland on my way to anywhere. Then you'd be honking at me and tell me to get the heck back to L.A.! I do hope your city council sees the light. It does seem, however, that they are hellbent on seeing this go through. Continue fighting for what you feel is right, one of the great aspects of a Democracy.
Posted by: Sherry Roberts | July 15, 2010 at 08:10 AM
Steve: Because they have larger and longer-term plans than this one project. If you look at what they have done in the past and what they are proposing now, it describes a trajectory.It is not an uncommon trajectory, in fact it has been played out over and over again all across the country. I think we need to nip it in the bud or the reason why I kept referring to it that way will become painfully obvious to everyone.
Posted by: Dan B. Underhill | July 14, 2010 at 11:58 PM
Dan, why do you keep referring to the SMCTA plan as a "freeway?" They're not removing any lights.
Posted by: Steve Sinai | July 14, 2010 at 11:14 PM
The "Marketplace" program on NPR (see links below) had an interesting segment on municipalities (including municipalities that had inadequate public transit at the time) tearing down freeways, replacing them with boulevards, and enjoying a business upturn as a result. I am not sure it would happen the same way here, but I do believe that any of the plans Caltrans and SMCTA are presenting will do to Vallemar and Rockaway businesses what the freeway in the north of town did to businesses up here. It virtually guaranteed that your customer base would be limited primarily to local people. If your business isn't the destination, you get few customers who don't live off the same off-ramp as your business.
Here are the links:
Posted by: Dan B. Underhill | July 14, 2010 at 08:06 PM
Best use of the $50 million it will cost to run this project: Get some negative carbon footprint transit on the coastside for seniors, commuters, and schoolchildren.
Notice how on schooldays there is no heavy traffic at all? Let's be true conservatives, get into public transit, and get out of our gas- and oil-guzzling cars.
It's good for our pocketbooks and it's good for the planet, since we will not be adding to global warming.
Posted by: Kathy Jana | June 29, 2010 at 12:45 AM
Bruce: Somebody will be inconvenienced regardless of what we do or don't do. It is a matter of degree and, yes, it is everyone's place to participate in these decisions. I just went to the Highway 1 Widening Public Information Meeting. They had a raft of plans all aimed at ratcheting Highway 1 in the direction of becoming a major freeway. Each of their plans was worse than the next. Any one of them would ease the problem a little bit for a short period of time, all the while drawing in more traffic and causing another bottleneck somewhere down the road that they can then use to sell the next phase and so on until we have fully developed the freeway and the coast into some place nobody will want to be. I fully expect that if we cave in on this one we will soon be contending with plans to add more bores to the tunnel and/or to revisit the bypass plan as that will be where the bottleneck has moved to. According to the Caltrans chart, any of these plans costing tens of millions of dollars (not to mention the inconvenience of having Highway 1 torn up for six months or a year) would save commuters four to eight minutes at the peak of rush hour and nothing at all most other times. Pretty much any of the plans I've seen on Riptide are better because they come without the hidden agenda of the ever growing carbon footprint. I expect that we will soon be forced by changes to the environment and the economy and by technical innovation to adopt a very different lifestyle. We shouldn't have all of our resources tied up in trying to rebuild the 1950s when our future is going to require more sophisticated thinking than that. Don't get me wrong, the engineers at Caltrans did what they were asked to do very well, but if you are asked the wrong question, you are pretty nearly guaranteed to come up with a wrong answer. Abraham Maslow's "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail" applies here.
Posted by: Dan Underhill | June 22, 2010 at 11:12 PM
Dan, you always have the option of inconveniencing yourself, but is it really your place (or anyone else's) to inconvenience others?
I am not personally affected by the intersection; I leave for work just after 6 a.m., and I travel from my home in West Fairway Park up Sharp Park.
I think it's ironic that a decent, alternative plan has come from Mitch Reid. Although his "plan" may be more costly, it solves most of the problems. If I remember correctly, the powers that be said the tunnels would be too expensive, and yet there they are. I have to give Mitch his props. If anyone could get a plan like his for Highway 1 through, it is Mitch Reid.
We have lived with the mess at that intersection for decades; perhaps we can live with it until the best solution is approved?
Posted by: Bruce Hotchkiss | June 22, 2010 at 10:45 AM
Yes, traffic is "bad." It takes effort to sit and wait. But it seems epidemic that once people find the perfect place to call home, they can't resist the temptation (and appearance of free money) to make things "better." If people think they have traffic and congestion now, just wait until the state comes to fix it for them over the next few years.
Posted by: Carolyn Leonard | June 21, 2010 at 04:13 PM
Bruce: The traffic unnecessarily idling at the stoplight puts out more exhaust than the southbound traffic will by that minor detour. Also, I have voted and will vote in favor of measures that inconvenience me but provide a greater good for a greater number of people. It might even be faster to turn north to go south at that time of day. Try it and see how that time compares with waiting at that very long light.
Posted by: Dan Underhill | June 21, 2010 at 02:29 PM
So as long as it doesn't inconvenience Dan U and Kathy J, it's okeydokey? Everyone trying to get out of Vallemar has to turn right and head north? That's insane. "It might inconvenience a very few southbound commuters ..." As long as it doesn't inconvenience me?
Instead Dan suggests adding pollution by having those who want to go south drive north first, then turn around and double back. Extra miles + extra stop-and-go = extra pollution.
Let's just legislate that no one may drive their children to school anymore. That would solve a big part of the problem. Or maybe we limit traffic to those who drive purple cars with wide white wall tires. Or how about only full electric cars may use Highway 1 between 7 and 10 a.m.? After all, these ideas would inconvenience only a very few people in the grander scheme of things.
I do not believe the widening will solve the problem, but c'mon, folks.
Posted by: Bruce Hotchkiss | June 21, 2010 at 07:56 AM
Posted by: Steve Sinai | June 20, 2010 at 11:55 PM
It took me a moment to figure it out as well, Steve. The sign would face east on Reina Del Mar at the highway. It might inconvenience a very few southbound commuters who would have to turn right, get off at Clarendon, and then get back on Highway 1 south off Francisco Boulevard. The lights could be set so that they don't wait for thousands of phantom drivers to turn south off Reina Del Mar every morning, allowing more greenlight time for all the REAL commuters who are mostly going north.
Posted by: Dan Underhill | June 20, 2010 at 11:03 PM
Can someone please explain to me how Kathy Jana's suggestion solves the problem? Where would this sign go, and who is it supposed to keep from turning right?
Also, a highway widening doesn't turn Highway 1 into a "freeway." That would require taking away streetlights, and I don't remember that being in the proposal.
Posted by: Steve Sinai | June 20, 2010 at 09:12 PM
Instead of spending $50 million of taxpayer money so drivers can take a freeway through Pacifica, let's spend $1,000 and put a "Right Turn Only" effective at Vallemar from 7 to 9 a.m.
This will accomplish the stated purpose of this massive freeway, complete with retaining walls and access roads: "to reduce congestion on the segment of SR 1/Calera Parkway within the City of Pacfiica."
Let's save the state some money ~~ which it needs for the unfunded employee pension funds ~~ and improve quality of life in Pacifica at the same time.
Posted by: Kathy Jana | June 20, 2010 at 06:06 PM
I'm Todd's dittohead. Thanks, Cynthia.
Posted by: Steve Sinai | June 07, 2010 at 11:43 PM
Andres Duany (small designer guy from Florida) wrote, "[W]idening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic. In the long run, in fact, it increases traffic. This revelation is so counterintuitive that it bears repeating: adding lanes makes traffic worse.
"A recent University of California at Berkeley study covering thirty California counties between 1973 and 1990 found that, for every 10 percent increase in roadway capacity, traffic increased 9 percent within four years' time.
"The mechanism at work behind induced traffic is elegantly explained by an aphorism gaining popularity among traffic engineers: 'Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt.' "
Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, 2000.
Posted by: Peter Loeb | June 07, 2010 at 05:18 PM
If there was a formal traffic study, Peebles did not release it to the public. Korve did a preliminary trip generation analysis, but this did not include any recommendations for changing the freeway.
Posted by: Larry Rosenstein | June 07, 2010 at 04:20 PM
Posted by: todd bray | June 07, 2010 at 11:43 AM
Todd & Steve:
There was a formal traffic study. Todd is half right about the roundabouts; they were part of the solution, but only on the frontage roads and within the proposed development itself.
Korve did the traffic study, and in its discussions with Caltrans, its final recommendation was to create a complete freeway through from Vallemar to Linda Mar. If I remember correctly (which is doubtful since it's Monday), it may have been the group that recommended lowering the freeway.
Hope this helps.
Posted by: Cynthia Montanez | June 07, 2010 at 10:35 AM
Steve, Peebles did not formally propose anything for Measure L, so for documentation all that really exists are developer promises and misguided loyalties like yours. You may not remember the issue, but he had to satisfy a public vote to allow housing to be part of whatever would be proposed in the future for his leveraged property. But during public meetings, his traffic fellow and that small designer guy from Florida made the case for you P4P folks that lanes only encourage traffic and that solutions such as grade separations or roundabouts were better answers.
Posted by: todd bray | June 07, 2010 at 08:24 AM
Todd-meister, as far as I know, Peebles never commissioned any kind of formal traffic study, and therefore never proposed any kind of traffic solution such as roundabouts. Effects of roundabouts, funnels(?), over/underpasses, and new lanes were argued about at places such as the Pacifica-L list, but it never went beyond that.
If you know of some kind of document from Peebles that said roundabouts were the best way to deal with traffic, I'd sure love to see it.
Posted by: Steve Sinai | June 07, 2010 at 01:04 AM