A raised median on a roadway can slow traffic, reduce accidents, increase pedestrian safety and even help beautify a community.
But upon further examination, the span between School Road and Hiller Road is problematic. A median, while perhaps a good idea elsewhere, won’t work along this stretch,
As was pointed out at last week’s meeting of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee, there are 42 separate driveways in the project area, The draft design released by County Public Works only allows left-hand turns at School Road, Sutter Road, Heartwood Drive and Hiller Road. That means that numerous businesses would be cut off from traffic trying to access their driveways from the other side of the street.
County Public Works has said that additional left-hand turn pockets could be installed in the median. But which businesses would get the turn pockets, and which ones wouldn’t? Would larger businesses be favored over smaller ones?
Even if this issue could be worked out, there’s a bigger problem. In order to access businesses on the other side of the street that don’t have their own turn pockets, motorists would have to make U-turns at the intersections. But there’s not enough room for large vehicles to make U-turns.
Do we really want vehicles to have to stop and back up while trying to execute U-turns at an intersections? Of course not.
Perhaps if this project were to move forward, some of these issues could be worked out. But rather than trying to tweak the draft design, what we need to do is overhaul the entire process for designing projects in McKinleyville.
Right now there’s a top-down design process. County Public Works identifies McKinleyville problems. Then it comes up with a solution. Up until recently, residents often didn’t know about the projects until the county broke ground.
Now, with the existence of a McKMAC, there’s a way for these projects to be brought before McKinleyville residents so they can discuss them.
The county would be wise to take this a step further. Rather than identifying a problem and bringing a solution before the McKMAC, the county should have the McKMAC both identify the problems and come up with solutions.
Let these projects evolve out of discussions with the people of McKinleyville.
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