RTC Receives Highway Safety Improvement Program Grant for Highway 9 Pedestrian Crossings

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) received $250,000 in grant money from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) for pedestrian crossing safety projects on Highway 9 (State Route 9/SR9) in the San Lorenzo Valley.

SR9 serves as a main thoroughfare for pedestrians to access schools, libraries, parks, commercial areas and homes. There are only four signal lights and one stop sign on the highway, and many of the intersections that pedestrians regularly use for crossings have no safety controls.

RTC staff, working with Caltrans, the County of Santa Cruz Public Works Department, and community leaders, identified five intersections on SR9 with high foot traffic and high pedestrian involved collision rates where the installation of pedestrian crossings with enhanced safety features should be prioritized.

The intersections where pedestrian crossings will be improved with the HSIP grant money are:

  • SR9/Redwood Drive in Felton;
  • SR9 midblock crossing between Graham Hill Road and Kirby Street in Felton;
  • SR9/Clear Creek Road in Brookdale;
  • SR9/Forest Street in Boulder Creek; and
  • SR9/Pool Drive in Boulder Creek.

Improvements at these five locations vary and will include a combination of treatments, including installation of high-visibility striping and signage, advance warning flashing beacons, and Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons.

Enhancements in these key locations will improve crossing safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by alerting on-coming vehicles of the presence of a lawful crosswalk and/or that the crosswalk is occupied.

“The heavily used pedestrian routes along Highway 9 have a history of motorist and pedestrian collisions. These crosswalk improvements will increase visibility of the crosswalks and pedestrians, alerting motorists to their presence and warning motorists to slow down near crossing locations,” said Santa Cruz County Supervisor Bruce McPherson, whose supervisorial district covers the San Lorenzo Valley. “Pedestrians will have safer access to transit stops, parks, neighborhoods, businesses and other services they rely on in this rural area.”

According to data from the Transportation Injury Mapping System, there were 34 pedestrian involved incidents on SR9 from 2006-2017. Twenty-three of these incidents, including three pedestrian fatalities and four pedestrian severe injuries, occurred at an intersection where the pedestrian had the right-of-way, and in 15 of these incidents, the pedestrian was crossing in a marked crosswalk.

The RTC is currently working on the SR9/San Lorenzo Valley Complete Streets Corridor Plan, a planning study that provides a vision, guiding principles, and realistic strategies to improve how people get around San Lorenzo Valley. Data gathered during initial outreach for the plan shows that crossing SR9 is a priority safety issue for pedestrians and bicyclists. In early 2019, the RTC will gather community feedback on the draft Complete Streets Corridor Plan in order to prioritize implementation of a range of identified projects along the corridor.

For more information on the Caltrans’ Highway Safety Improvement Program, visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LocalPrograms/hsip.html.

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