A barricaded road that cuts through the CSU Monterey Bay campus could become the next valve for commuters heading between Salinas and Monterey – good news to people sick of traffic on the other routes, but bad news to some residents. Some worry opening the road to more cars will be dangerous and diminish the community’s quality of life.
On June 18, about seven people showed up at a County Board of Supervisors meeting to protest a plan to open up Inter-Garrison Road to traffic at 50 miles per hour. The road has been closed to most traffic for at least 15 years and is primarily a connection between the main campus and the East Campus residential area. Residents say the road has become a common pedestrian and bike path, and that more high-speed traffic would put people at risk.
At least one supervisor agrees.
“Basically there’s no need to open the road,” Supervisor Jane Parker says. “I think it’s premature right now.”
The supes were asked to open the road by the developers of the new East Garrison homes in the former Fort Ord.
Fred Watson, a CSUMB professor of ecology who lives in the campus neighborhood of about 3,000, says residents have gotten used to using the road for biking and other activities.
“It places students at risk,” he says of the proposed changes. “It’ll just be a matter of time before some student on a skateboard or a bike gets injured.”
Watson also worries increased traffic could impair wildlife movement, threaten habitat and hinder key access to the Fort Ord National Monument.
A staff report on the supes’ June 18 agenda recommends opening the road with a three-way stop near the national monument trailhead, as well as some parking restrictions near the informal parking area on the side of the road to reduce pedestrian crossing. Last summer CSUMB expressed concerns over the road opening, but the university has since installed traffic calming measures in preparation. The board may also look into other measures, like installing a roundabout.
Gwen Miller, a 25-year-old CSUMB grad student, rides her bike from her home at the East Campus housing to the main campus at least five days a week. She says there’s both good and bad that might come of a road opening.
More traffic would possibly make biking more dangerous, she says, even though the bike lanes are pretty wide. On the other hand, an open road might make it easier for drivers and bikers to get to Toro Park, another popular rec spot.
Protesters didn’t get a chance to speak at the June meeting because the item was tabled, but they expect to go back in July.
“If [Inter-Garrison] is going to be opened, it should be at a really low speed limit and with lots of traffic measures, like signals, stoplights and speed bumps,” Watson says.