Caltrans seeking consensus, not approval, from HMB on traffic light


Posted by on Fri, May 26, 2006

Caltrans is not asking for Half Moon Bay’s approval of the proposed traffic light at the intersection of Highways 1 and 92.

The agency is performing a traffic study requested by the city next week, and waiting until the HMB City Council has a chance to review and discuss the study at its June 6 meeting. However, it is not seeking approval from the city before turning on the light.

"We want to work on a collaborative basis," Caltrans spokesman John Cunliffe told Coastsider.  Once the study is complete, he says, "The most logical decision should be pretty straightforward—What’s best for the efficiency of the intersection?"

Cunliffe reiterated Caltrans’s position that in this emergency it does not need a Coastal Development Permit from the city to install the light.  He declined to say whether Caltrans maintains it would need permission if there were no emergency.

When asked who was representing the unincorporated Midcoast, all of which is north of the intersection, in this collaborative process, Cunliffe said he’s getting plenty of input from people who live north of the intersection.


“Approval? What approval? We don’t need no stinkin’ approval. We’re CalTrans! Now get out of our way or we’ll run you over!”

I just don’t think that people who don’t spend an hour to get from Montara, Moss Beach and El Granada to get to HWY 92 have a say as to whether a light may or may not be used.  The comment of the potential back up in HMB is a little shallow for those of us who wait for 20 minutes to get from the light a Pillar Point to the light at Coronado.  I just feel that in order for HMB City Council to decide on the use of that light, that they spend one whole week at the furthest most point of Montara and get over the hill to work before they can have a say.

We have NO representation as we are all unicorportated area.  To say that SOME inquiry has happened just haven’t come up North to ask anyone I know. If the HMB City Council gets to have input, why not have a forum of all those who live in unicorporated Northern San Mateo County give our input or approval to that which affects us.

run you over at 2 miles per hour

I wish that all of the Midcoast residents who are now complaining loudly (quite justifiably I might add) about horrendous traffic congestion, would now take the time to tell their elected representatives (the County Board of Supervisors) that the Supervisors’ plan to double the number of housing units on the Midcoast in coming decades is just not acceptable.

Midcoast residents should demand that the LCP update hearings be re-opened to public. The voice of ordinary citizens should take precedence over special-interest groups whose only concern is to make money from the ongoing building boom.

The Midcoast target buildout numbers should be made contingent on the Level of Service of the roads. The annual growth rate limit should be brought down to a strict 1%, as requested by the community, and consistent with HMB (which is negatively impacted by the excessive growth allowed in the Midcoast).

p.s. Berni Schuhmann’s post above provides yet another data point that the biggest bottleneck on Hwy 1 is the ELG exit-clog, not the left turn at Hwy 1/92. CalTrans should be working with the Board of Supervisors to fix this, not strong-arming HMB into accepting a new traffic light that will probably have only a neglible impact on southbound commute times.

Well, the unincorporated communities north of HMB do have “representation”—the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is our “city council.” I know, you’re laughing too hard to read anything more, but do remember that San Mateo County has permit power over Caltrans projects in unincorporated areas. Hypothetically, they could have forced Caltrans to use a repair that would get traffic moving on the slide weeks ago(more peals of laughter), but that is not something that could ever happen without a complete and highly unlikely turnaround in San Mateo County politics. The “Stupes” know who makes their butter and who puts it on their bread.

Carl May

Comment 6
Sat, May 27, 2006 12:59am
Brian
All my comments

Caltrans was prepared to turn these lights on over a week ago - but the HMB City Council somehow successfully stalled them until June 6th at a minimum. This despite Mr. Keyhan Moghbel’s promise during the previous council meeting that the lights would be disabled if they didn’t provide an overall good. Mr. Moghbel also stated that their traffic engineer had already established that the merge was causing a problem with the main choke point at SR1 and SR92 - so a further traffic study should have been unnecessary. My unsubstantiated belief is that HMB officials threatened Caltrans with a lawsuit, and Caltrans is only doing this extra study as insurance against such a frivolous action.

I find it reprehensible that HMB has stood in the way of this traffic mitigation. I for one will be at the June 6th Council meeting to tell them so. I copied Coastsider and the Review on a letter I sent to Caltrans and the HMB Council members regarding this issue (to which I have only received one response, a courteous albeit curt reponse from Bonnie McClung).

Brian Dantes
El Granada

Barry Parr wrote:
“The agency [CalTrans] is performing a traffic study requested by the city next week…”

Now let’s see.
CalTrans badly wants to put in a new stoplight at that intersection and has been pushing to do so for at least 10 years.

CalTrans is asked to justify its proposal with a traffic study.

CalTrans itself is doing the traffic study.

Now does anybody doubt what CaTrans’ traffic study is going to conclude?

Ordinarily when the City reviews a coastal development proposal (which is what this is), the City chooses a qualified independent consultant to perform any required studies (traffic, biological, etc.)

Developers do not get to pick who does the study, let alone being allowed to do the study themselves.

Good grief! Caltrans is going to “discuss the study at its June 6 meeting.” Caltrans wants to turn that light on - I for one wish Caltrans would stop dithering and just do it, while the school year is still in session and so it would immediately start to benefit the greatest number of people. Caltrans could continue to monitor the situation. If the light truly does not help or makes things worse, it could always be deactivated. Discussions aren’t going to tell us if it will help - only turning it on will do that. I wish Caltrans would just get on with it.

Beverly McGuire

Ms. McGuire,

It’s not Caltrans that is “dithering” or going to “discuss the study” - it’s the HMB City Council. Caltrans was fully prepared to enable these lights a couple of weeks ago and “monitor the situation” just as you suggested—but HMB officials obstructed them.

You should write the HMB City Council and show up at their next meeting on June 6th. They need to know that people consider their actions inappropriate. You should also make your feelings known to Caltrans: Keyhan Moghbel, project manager at Caltrans <email>[email protected]</email> and Bijan Sartipi, district manager at Caltrans <email>[email protected]</email>

Brian Dantes
El Granada

I think they should perform a test on the traffic light to see if it actually does anything at all. Based on the amount of cars that actually are coming for South 1 to 92 I believe it will NOT help out the North side at all. But, let’s test just to see (and test before school is out).

I think the solution to the north side congestion is to increase the green light time on the left turn into 92, and increase the amount of green light on the main street/92 light.

The real solution of course is to increase the bandwidth on 92: make it 4 lanes and no signals connecting 1 and 92. I know that is a big leap but it has to happen in order to meet the demands of our planned growth.

After enduring (yet another) 2.5 hour commute about 2 weeks ago - most of which was between Montara and Frenchman’s Creek - I called Supervisor Gordon’s office and spoke with one of his staff to see what kind of leadership his office might offer. I see (again) that in these emergencies there are multiple conflicting jursdictions and agendas, with no clear leader.

It appears to me that every one of the organizations involved are hiding behind each others’ incompetence; lessons from Katrina be damned.

Let’s hope a real leader emerges in the upcoming election- on all levels.

For those who don’t like the current situation—guess what you will get if you vote for the same people who produced it? Even a roll of the dice has better odds for improvement than voting for the same ol’ same ol’ in San Mateo County.

Carl May

The intersection in question is CA 1 and CA 92. Neither of these are HMB 1 or HMB 92 therefore why should CalTrans have to ask HMB if they can activate the lights?

JB Cockrell

JB Cockrell wrote:
“The intersection in question is CA 1 and CA 92. Neither of these are HMB 1 or HMB 92 therefore why should CalTrans have to ask HMB if they can activate the lights?”

The installation of the new stop lights constitutes development that would normally require a Coastal Development Permit if the City were dealing with a reasonable public agency that recognized local authority. Unfortunately, we aren’t dealing with such an agency in this case.

Aside from the legal/permit issues, the City of Half Moon Bay needs to have a say in how traffic circulates within City limits because the City itself is required ensure compliance with the coastal access provisions of the California Coastal Act.

If a new traffic light messes up traffic circulation so that visitors have trouble getting to/from the City’s beaches, then the City is held responsible for violating the coastal access provisions, not CalTrans.

I am sure caltrans has the authority to do something like this light in an emergency situation.  (IF I am wrong there is something wrong with the law to let a small town sieze a road for its own use.) What they want to do is improve the overall flow of traffic through the light.

If a TEST of a metering light constitutes develpment then so does shutting down mainstreet and all the other lane modifications that have been made in the last month. To convieniently say that a permit is needed for this one is a stretch and an abuse of the system of environmental protections afforded by the coastal act.

The city limit sign of HMB is north of the Beach Inn in El Granada, by the way. Tax dollars from those norht bsinesses fow into city coffers and the city should be responsible to all visitors in their humble town, not only those from over the hill. North mid-coast patrons add much more to the economy of HMB than do tourists and they deserve due respect.

I went out to dinner in HMB last night we made a conscious choice of supporting a HMB business. I still shop in HMB but if that light stays sacked wihtout a test I will start taking my business over the hill.

I am sure caltrans has the authority to do something like this light in an emergency situation.  (IF I am wrong there is something wrong with the law to let a small town sieze a road for its own use.) What they want to do is improve the overall flow of traffic through the light.

If a TEST of a metering light constitutes develpment then so does shutting down mainstreet and all the other lane modifications that have been made in the last month. To convieniently say that a permit is needed for this one is a stretch and an abuse of the system of environmental protections afforded by the coastal act.

The city limit sign of HMB is north of the Beach Inn in El Granada, by the way. Tax dollars from those norht bsinesses fow into city coffers and the city should be responsible to all visitors in their humble town, not only those from over the hill. North mid-coast patrons add much more to the economy of HMB than do tourists and they deserve due respect.

I went out to dinner in HMB last night we made a conscious choice of supporting a HMB business. I still shop in HMB but if that light stays sacked wihtout a test I will start taking my business over the hill.

I decided to do a quick traffic study this morning since I had a little extra time.

At 7AM this morning, there were five (5, cinqo) cars heading eastbound on 92 between roughly Hwy 1 and Hilltop.  I’d guess average speed was 32 mph.

Yes, I know it is a Friday on a holiday week.

Is there a timeline for removing the unused lights?  Should I email Mr. Keyhan Moghbel for an update?

Brian Ginna wrote:
“Is there a timeline for removing the unused lights?”

Good question. Those things are major eyesores.  The Chamber of Commerce has been pushing a program to beautify the City’s medians. Those orange-bagged lights are not certainly not helpful in this regard.