Seaside considers opening neighborhood access from General Jim Moore.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Atraffic issue has got to be heated when it draws a heavy crowd right after Thanksgiving break.
Tryptophan notwithstanding, nearly 150 Seaside residents packed into the Oldemeyer Center Nov. 30 to weigh in on the city’s proposal to open three access points from General Jim Moore Boulevard: onto Hilby, San Pablo and Military avenues.
For now, the only westward turnoff the newly re-aligned General Jim – in the 2.3-mile stretch between Canyon Del Rey Boulevard and Coe Avenue – is onto Broadway Avenue, with emergency access at the Paralta Gate connecting Coe and Military.
For residents navigating to General Jim from the streets in between, “it’s a lot of wasted time and energy,” City Engineer Tim O’Halloran says.
Linking the thoroughfare with Hilby, San Pablo and Military wouldn’t take much earth-moving. The streets already physically connect to General Jim, but are blocked off by gates installed decades ago by the U.S. Army.
Seaside’s 2004 General Plan calls for opening more access points along General Jim. Potential benefits include faster emergency response, more efficient circulation, and opening traffic flow between the historic heart of the city and the eastern area of the former Fort Ord, which is slated for development.
“The hope is that there are increased volumes on some segments of the roadways, but also decreased volume on [other] sections,” O’Halloran says.
The consulting firm Hatch Mott MacDonald is trying to quantify the impacts of opening the gates. The Fort Ord Reuse Authority is paying for the traffic study, which has cost about $26,000 so far, according to Jeff Waller, a project engineer with the firm.
At the Nov. 30 meeting, a strong majority of residents voiced concerns about opening the gates. Among them was Berj Amir, who ticks off a list of arguments against permanently opening the Paralta Gate to his neighborhood.
He foresees cars turning off General Jim and zipping down Military Avenue to skirt rush-hour backups on Highway 68 and Highway 1. Amir believes it may overload a narrow street already crammed with cars toting kids to and from the neighborhood’s two schools.
“This is going to affect traffic in a way that’s unpleasant for the way that I live,” he says. “The road is dangerous as it is.”
Amir also questions the city’s traffic measurements and says his street is already in disrepair. Opening the three gates may reduce traffic on Broadway, he allows, but Hilby, San Pablo and Military are not engineered for the increased flow.
“It seems like a foolish shift,” he says.
City officials plan to hold a second public meeting Jan. 25 to present more information from the traffic study and discuss potential traffic-calming measures.