Menlo Park: Fire district to modify El Camino stoplights for emergency vehicles


The Menlo Park Fire Protection District will be modifying the traffic signals on El Camino Real in Menlo Park and Atherton so emergency-response vehicles can turn them green as they approach, Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

The goal is to maintain, or improve, emergency response times, which are being challenged by increased traffic volume and congestion, he said.

In an emergency response, "minutes matter and seconds count," he said. "The reality for us is, lives hang in the balance."

However, he warned, for traffic signal pre-emption to reduce response times, vehicles must be able to move out of the way. "Pre-emption only works when there's flow," he said.

The district will spend more than $60,000 upgrading the traffic signals, he said. The district is also splitting with Atherton the estimated $300,000 cost for a pedestrian-activated traffic signal, which the district will be able to control, at Almendral Avenue and El Camino, near one of its fire stations.

Last year the district used $100,000 -- contributed by Facebook to offset impacts of the company's developments on the fire district -- to upgrade or install pre-emption devices on Willow Road, University Avenue, Marsh Road and Bayfront Expressway traffic signals.

The fire district covers Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and some unincorporated areas.

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2 people like this
Posted by Matt
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Mar 4, 2016 at 7:11 am

Please remove the illegal traffic light spycams while you're at it.

16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 4, 2016 at 8:40 am

The problem is not the traffic lights. The problem is large vehicles parked on the street near intersections, which really limits the ability of car drivers to get out of the way of emergency vehicles and limits the ability of emergency vehicles to make turns. How about banning vehicle parking along El Camino and other major emergency routes? Or at least ban parking within 30 yards of intersections.

7 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:18 am

The vast majority of emergencies are not fires, which means you don't need to get a massive fire truck down the road; you need to get a first responder capable of handling most non-fire emergencies.

Paramedics on motorcycles would go a much longer way than trying to manipulate traffic to save 30 seconds for a fire truck, to the detriment of pedestrians / cyclists / cross-town commuters.

See also: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2016 at 1:08 pm

Since they've previously installed some of these, why is there no mention to their effectiveness, value and problems?

Something about this seems like it won't solve the problem, and I like what MP Resident suggests. Consider a firetruck approaching, in traffic, and the light turns green when it's 50' away? This sounds more confusing than anything for drivers who aren't from this area, especially. For those who are, it sounds like another unnecessary extravagance that could best be used in another way.

2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Ensuring that primary emergency response routes are designed and maintained so as to permit timely emergency access is the responsibility of the cities, the county and CalTrans that own those roads not the responsibility of the Fire District.

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Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2016 at 5:20 pm

That being the case, Peter, I would assume (assume nothing!) that the involved parties would most certainly look at all options to remedy the congestive situation and mostly confer with fire departments for said areas.

It may well have come up as an issue by a fire department.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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