Mar 28 2011

Opinion: Moraga-Unsafe at any Speed

A letter from a resident on the history of Moraga road accidents and traffic safety decisions

Having lived in Piedmont for 57 years, I am a first hand witness to the social, political and environmental facts that exist in our little Mayberry-USA.  The latest good deed is a scheme that involves the brilliant discovery of unknown land at Blair Park on Moraga Avenue.

Since the 1950’s, endless land developers have proposed free “gift” projects for this too-narrow strip of green open park space. The original Rockridge Payless Drug Store wanted to build there in the 60’s.  There have been many, many well intentioned proposals for condos, homes, townhouses, senior housing, strip mall stores, etc. at the Blair Park site.

For over 60 years the statement from Piedmont City Officials and Traffic Engineers was always the same to all these well meaning visionaries:  you cannot build it because the traffic conditions on the steep, winding, commuter arterial called Moraga Canyon road are too dangerous.

Ironically, Piedmont’s previous & current traffic consultant (LSA Associates) stated in their 1986 traffic study report:  the sight lines, volume and speed of cars, topography, grade creates a safety hazard and potential for accidents at the Red Rock-Moraga Avenue intersection. Many of the pro-field supporters are new to Piedmont and have not lived in the East Bay long enough to understand both the natural beauty & inherent danger of the East Bay arterial roads. Piedmont senior staff has convenient amnesia on just how treacherously and deadly the Moraga Canyon road accident record has been.

In the 70’s, a speeding car down Moraga flew through the house carport next to Coaches Field…..into the next house’s living room.  There have been numerous auto accidents and guardrail & fence impacts.  Let’s not forget the fatal tragedy of when a full carload of Piedmont High Students misjudged the Moraga roadway and their convertible vehicle flipped over on Moraga road.

Moraga Canyon road is dangerous and unsafe at any speed.  It is a City designated truck route; it is a primary arterial thoroughfare that serves thousands of our East Bay commuting neighbors.  Moraga road performs much like Oakland’s Shepherd Canyon, Joaquin Miller, Park Blvd, Tunnel Road and the Niles Canyon Road in Fremont.

The sports field developers & City senior staff are trying to pitch-to-the-public, a Pedestrian-Activated Signal light Crosswalk (PASLC) at Red Rock Road, and this “push button” crossing will magically protect our children. Anyone who thinks, a simple push button traffic design will tame the Moraga Canyon beast is naive and negligent.

Go visit the push button crosswalks at Montclair Park, Ashby Avenue, Claremont Avenue or on San Pablo (PASLC)……..then cross at your own peril.  All these locations are far superior to Red Rock Road in that they are all on extra wide streets, level ground and with over 500+ foot sight-line distances.  Accidents and “near fatal misses” are still numerous at these locations.

A PASLC at Red Rock Road might give children and the public some fleeting security and safe passage to cross – 97% of the time.  But, the high risk Moraga road arterial location will place the public in harms way and will likely result in huge liability lawsuits for the City of Piedmont from the remaining 3%.

The upcoming City Council vote on Blair Park is not about the need for field space.  The Piedmont Council Vote is about public safety for everyone on the Moraga Canyon road.

Neil Teixeira
Piedmont, Ca

(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author. All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

One Response to “Opinion: Moraga-Unsafe at any Speed”

  1. From what I understand, PRFO is developing additional traffic calming measures for presentation to Council on 4/18. Some traffic calming measures will absolutely be required – the EIR found a significant impact on vehicle exit time from the parking lots at the 35 mph speed on Moraga so the only way to reduce that impact is to lower speeds on Moraga Ave. A PALSC will be used intermitently, probably just weekends, and so will not provide consistent traffic calming. So what will do that – a traffic signal or round-about at Maxwellton are really the only options. The EIR also identified increased waiting time at Harbord and Estates (in Oakland) as a significant impact that could only be addressed by a traffic light. To settle a law suit with Oakland, Piedmont would likely have to pay to install a light at one of these streets. The combined effect of these three traffic elements has never been studied but could substantially reduce the speed on Moraga Avenue. It defies sensible planning to see that we are 6 years “into” this proposal and no traffic plan has been identified.

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