Political pressure from Sacramento is being brought to bear as the town of Woodside seeks authorization to upgrade a crosswalk in front of Woodside Elementary School that crosses Woodside Road, a state highway.
Town staff have asked state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, to intercede on Woodside's behalf, Town Engineer Paul Nagengast told the Town Council on March 11.
The town submitted a plan for the crosswalk to the California Department of Transportation for consideration and approval in 2012, the idea being to get the crosswalk ready for the start of the 2013-14 school year. Approval came too late to finish the work before school began, so the town tried for the 2014-15 school year, but with modifications.
The modified plan, submitted in late 2013, adds a lighted warning sign, shifts one bike lane and narrows traffic lanes to make room for a pedestrian path, re-stripes the crosswalk and reworks the drainage.
Caltrans' approval in time for the 2014-15 school year is now looking like it might, once again, be too late. Woodside changes to its plans pushed it to the back of the line, behind some 45 other agencies and their proposals, Mr. Nagengast said. Thus the turn to state representatives for assistance.
"If this doesn't get done this year, I think we should all resign," an angry Mayor Dave Burow told the room. He then suggested that the town move ahead on its plans without waiting for Caltrans. "Nobody else wants to follow the law anymore. We should do what we want." he said heatedly. "I'm being a little dramatic here, but it's bordering on the ridiculous."
Mr. Burow chided the staff for its reworking of the plans. "We kept polishing and polishing and polishing and now we're going to miss the window, it looks like," he said. "This is a project I've asked you about every month for the last year. That's why I'm angry."
Reimbursement by the federal government to Woodside of up to $194,000 would be at stake if the town acted on its own, Mr. Nagengast said. Caltrans authorization is necessary when federal funds are involved.
Councilman Dave Tanner suggested physically paying a visit to the Caltrans District 4 office in Oakland. "Go in the office and hang out," he said. "Just go in there and be obnoxious."