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Published January 13, 2016
Tweaking Signal Timing on Pleasant Hill Road
Photo C. Tyson

Looking to reduce overall travel time along the Pleasant Hill Road corridor, Lafayette lawmakers recently approved a three month, $20,000 study to "enhance operations" on the northern portion of this busy thoroughfare. The study will look at existing conditions during the peak morning and afternoon commute timeframes and develop ways to improve the frustrating situation.
Analysis of peak hour car volumes, along with pedestrian and bicyclist counts will be made at five intersections along Pleasant Hill Road: at Deer Hill Road and Stanley Boulevard, at Springhill Road, at Reliez Valley Road, at Greenvalley Drive and at Rancho View Drive.
Delays, queue lengths, individual cycle length for traffic lights at each intersection, along with coordinating signal timing along Pleasant Hill Road to help alleviate congestion, will all be examined by consultant TJKM to find the best solution for optimal traffic signal timing that is specific to the time of day.
"Congestion on both Pleasant Hill Road and Deer Hill Road has gotten noticeably worse than it was even two or three years ago, and it's not because of development in Lafayette, because we haven't developed that much in the last couple years," said Council Member Don Tatzin. "It's really traffic coming in from other communities." He suggested holding a workshop with the Circulation Commission at Springhill Elementary School and inviting the neighborhood to share their observations and feedback with the study consultants.
In addition to traffic coming from beyond the city limits, Acalanes High School and Springhill Elementary School have a combined total of over 1,800 students, as well as teachers and staff that add to the gridlock on a daily basis.
School start times will be part of the mix that consultants need to consider to figure out the best congestion solution, however both nearby campus start times are fairly close together. Learning begins for Period 1 at Acalanes promptly at 8 a.m., while just up the street at Springhill Elementary, kindergarteners in the early section start at 8:15 a.m. and students in first through fifth grade start at 8:30 a.m.
Waiting at the Springhill Road intersection may seem particularly lengthy, as motorists pause at the light to give young pedestrians, with the help of a crossing guard, time to cross six lanes of traffic to get to school.
The study is slated to wrap up around the end of March with a report to the city council. City engineer Tony Coe made a point of managing expectations for the ability to improve the evening commute, cautioning that the main congestion feeder comes from the freeway, which is a CalTrans issue: “It’s not under Lafayette’s control.”
Coe confirmed there will be a forum hosted by the Circulation Commission for the Pleasant Hill Road signal operations study to provide an opportunity for interested people to add their observations and solution suggestions before any work in the study begins. As of press time, the date had not been determined, but those interested can keep an eye on the city website for meeting details at www.lovelafayette.com.

Design Review Open House Regarding Reliez Station Road Planned

In related transportation news, there will be a design review open house for the proposed signals along Reliez Station Road later in January. A date was yet to be determined as of press time. Also the proposed roundabout design at the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Olympic Boulevard will go back to the Circulation Commission to resolve mainly bike operations-related comments. See the city website, www.lovelafayette.com, for meeting information. To see a video simulation of the roundabout in action, go to the city website, click on “Hot Topics” then click on Reliez Station Road/Olympic Corridor Improvements.

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