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West-end Residents Up in Arms over Five-legged Intersection Changes

West-end residents are up in arms over proposed changes to this five-legged intersection. (Google Street View)

West-end residents are up in arms over proposed changes to this five-legged intersection. (Google Street View)

A group of West-end residents plan to speak out tomorrow night at a Transportation Commission meeting against proposed changes to a complicated intersection near Encinal High School.

The information packet for the item says that two student/vehicle collisions in the fall of last year prompted the Alameda Unified School District to ask the City of Alameda Public Works Department to look into improvements to the intersection of Central Avenue, Third Street, and Taylor Avenue.

After some interim improvements earlier this year, that involved mostly re-striping and painting at the intersection to better guide the flow of pedestrians and vehicles, public works staff have come up additional changes that have alarmed residents.

The core of the latest recommendations involve limiting access to Taylor Avenue at it’s western-most point, the intersection in question. The changes would eliminate access to Taylor Avenue from Third Street southbound and northbound, and from Central Avenue eastbound; access to Taylor Avenue would be permitted only from Central Avenue westbound.

This would be accomplished by striping, signage, and the installation of 5″ high “wheel stop” barriers at the intersection.

As the packet notes, “There would be a permanent removal of three inbound movements for Taylor Avenue and the prohibition of turning movements through signs.”

It’s this restricted access that is worrying the neighbors.

Debbie Jennings, who lives on the 300-block of Taylor Avenue, told Action Alameda News that she has collected more than 60 signatures on a petition opposing the changes.

She’s skeptical that the changes will have the promised effect, and questions if the Public Works Department has data to back up claims such as how the changes will slow-down vehicles turning onto Taylor Avenue from westbound Central Avenue.

The petitioners are also concerned that the changes will prohibit safety vehicles, and garbage trucks, from accessing Taylor Avenue from anywhere but the intersection of Taylor and Fourth Street.

“These concerns are not addressed anywhere in the report,” she wrote in an e-mail.

She also pointed out that, “this problem could be solved with the addition of a crossing guard before and after school. On page 5 of the Transportation Commission report, first paragraph, it clearly states, when there is staff controlling the crossing of the students the problem is almost non existent.”

An alternative proposal preserves existing access to Taylor Avenue, but according to public works staff, it doesn’t improve visibility for southbound Third Street motorists approaching the intersection.

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