'No through traffic' signs coming to Belle Haven | July 4, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

News - July 4, 2018

'No through traffic' signs coming to Belle Haven

by Kate Bradshaw

In response to resident complaints about vehicles cutting through the Belle Haven neighborhood, the Menlo Park City Council agreed on June 19 to install temporary "no through traffic" signs, with more potential changes in the works.

The neighborhood is dealing with multiple adjacent massive development projects, including the Menlo Gateway project on Independence and Constitution drives, the Facebook campus expansion on Constitution Drive, and the new TIDE Academy high school on Jefferson Drive, among others, according to staff.

A study to look at bigger-picture steps to ease congestion and cut-through traffic in the neighborhood is underway, but in previous public meetings, some residents said they were tired of waiting for more studies to be completed before changes were made.

"We've had enough of these meetings," Belle Haven resident Rose Bickerstaff told the City Council on June 19. "We've been talking about it for a long time. ... Nothing happens. You know, it's getting to be very dangerous."

The first step will be to install "no through traffic" signs on Independence Drive at Marsh Road, on Constitution Drive, at Chrysler Drive and Chilco Street, on Chilco Street at Terminal Avenue, and at Bayfront Expressway at Chrysler Drive and Chilco Street — when the city can find a good location for them along the expressway. City staff expected to have the signs purchased and installed within about a month of the step being approved.

"No through traffic" signs are technically unenforceable, because public roads can't be restricted for private use. Menlo Park's new permanent police chief, Dave Bertini, previously told the council that, under state law, public roadways can't be restricted to only a portion of drivers who happen to live or have business there.

The matter previously came up when the Willows neighborhood was seeking relief for major cut-through traffic. The signs were installed last November, followed by turn restrictions onto Willow Road — which are legally enforceable. Some have told the City Council the steps reduced neighborhood congestion.

Next steps

Recommendations from the more comprehensive study are expected to be presented to the city's Complete Streets Commission in July, according to staff.

The study is funded by Facebook, a requirement the city imposed when it approved the company's expansion project.

There are a number of weak points in Belle Haven's road layouts and infrastructure, said Cecilia Taylor, founder of neighborhood advocacy group Belle Haven Action, during a recent walk-through of the neighborhood. She pointed out the lack of crosswalks at most intersections, while the few that do exist are faded or poorly painted.

A newly installed bike "box" where cyclists should wait at Willow Road and Hamilton Avenue is dangerously close to a bus stop, and the placement of some traffic signs only feet away from each other makes it difficult to read them, she pointed out.

She's hoping to focus the city's attention particularly on helping children get to and from school and day care facilities in the neighborhood safely, she said.

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