Get that foot ready to brake, Second Street East travelers – a pair of new stops is on the way.
On June 5, the Sonoma City Council approved in a 3-2 vote the upgrading of the intersection of Second Street East at Patten Street to a four-way stop following nearly two years of neighborhood complaints about speeding vehicles hoping to make a quick jaunt through the “east side.”
Patten Street already features stop signs at Second Street. But residents have called for adding stop signs to the Second Street crossings, as well, saying too many drivers use the thoroughfare to cut quickly through the neighborhood – and the increase in parked vehicles in recent years along Second Street has made it difficult to turn left or right at the intersection from Patten.
Or, as Second Street East resident Tamara Honeybourne described it to the Council, “You’re taking your life into your own hands.”
The four-way stop had actually been recommended twice previously by the city Traffic Safety Committee, but those plans came to a halt, as it were, when the removal of four trees – deemed necessary for the visibility of new stop signs – was denied by the city Tree Committee on the grounds the trees – a plum, an elm and two Crape Myrtles – were healthy and contributed to the City’s tree canopy, according to a city staff report.
That’s when the Second Street four-way stop made its detour before the City Council.
At the June 5 meeting, city Public Works Director Dan Takasugi detailed two “stealth speed surveys” conducted by the Sonoma Police Department in August 2015 and February 2016 which, he said, showed that vehicle speeds and traffic volume were not excessive, according to state traffic-control standards. Additionally, the three vehicle accidents reported at the intersection since 2011 didn’t meet the state traffic-control standards to suggest a four-way stop was warranted to mitigate accidents.
City staff recommended denying the four-way stop and instead consider other ways to reduce speeds – including rumble strips, roadway “bulbouts” or radar speed signs.
As Takasugi explained it, stop signs shouldn’t be used for “traffic-calming measures.”
But in the end, the City Council – whose members say they traverse Second Street East regularly – couldn’t be persuaded by the state traffic poobahs.
“This is good for a start,” said Councilmember David Cook voicing his support for the four-way stop and suggesting more stops along Second Street may eventually be warranted.
Councilmember Amy Harrington agreed. “People are using (Second Street East) as a substitute for Broadway,” she pointed out.
Councilmember Madolyn Agrimonti said her concerns over driving Second Street cause her to avoid it altogether.
Councilmember Gary Edwards and Mayor Rachel Hundley were in the minority, suggesting other traffic-flow issues were of greater priority.
According to the city staff report, installing the four-way stop and removing the four trees will cost between $10,000 and $20,000.
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