News

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.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

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.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Mar 3, 2016, 12:52 pm

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.

Comments

Matt
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Mar 4, 2016 at 7:11 am
Matt, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Mar 4, 2016 at 7:11 am
2 people like this

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


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

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.


MP Resident
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:18 am
MP Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:18 am
7 people like this

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


Beth
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2016 at 1:08 pm
Beth, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2016 at 1:08 pm
Like this comment

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.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Mar 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm
2 people like this

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.


Beth
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2016 at 5:20 pm
Beth, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2016 at 5:20 pm
Like this comment

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.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

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