El Camino Real's tricky intersection with Watkins Avenue has given Atherton residents a headache for many years. It turns out that it isn't sparing the firm that produced the environmental study for the proposed new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park.
An error in the draft environmental impact report (EIR) -- brought to light this week by a trio of residents that include Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen and her husband, Smith -- resulted in the finding that any library construction project would result in significant but unfixable traffic problems at the Watkins/El Camino intersection.
The firm, LSA Associates of Berkeley, drew that conclusion because it considered the only possible mitigation to be creation of a dedicated right-turn lane on Watkins onto northbound El Camino. But that option wasn't considered feasible because it would involve the taking of residential property in the right-of-way.
As a result, the traffic impact at that intersection is "significant and unavoidable," the EIR says.
But longtime resident Sandy Crittenden wasn't convinced. Earlier this week, he told Councilwoman McKeithen that he believed LSA was in error in measuring the right-of-way, and before long, the McKeithens were out at the intersection taking a look for themselves, Ms. McKeithen told the Almanac.
"They got it wrong," she said. The crew that did the work apparently believed that a white fence located near the roadside indicated the division between public and private property, she surmised.
That is not the case, Interim Public Works Director Mike Kashiwagi confirmed yesterday after investigating Ms. McKeithen's surprising claim.
As it turns out, the existing right-of-way width of Watkins Avenue is 60 feet, "which is adequate to provide a right-turn lane," Mr. Kashiwagi said in an email to the Almanac.
He has informed LSA of the error, and the firm "in consultation with Town Staff will determine the most appropriate way to make this correction," he wrote.
The draft EIR indicated that with a right-turn lane at that problematic intersection the traffic congestion wouldn't worsen if a new library is built in the park or in the Town Center.