In late December, the Department of Transportation (DOT) released the list of city streets that would be resurfaced during the 2015 calendar year. Moorpark Avenue between Lawrence Expressway and Saratoga Avenue was on that list.
This stretch of road has four schools that compete for space twice a day. I had heard from residents along Moorpark about how dangerous this stretch of road was. One resident in Strawberry Square has been the victim of three separate cars crashing into her house.
With the announcement from DOT in late December, I knew this was a great opportunity to engage the community in a discussion with DOT about how to improve the safety of Moorpark Avenue and take advantage of cost savings because the street was going to be re-striped during resurfacing. DOT agreed they would take feedback from residents if my office would organize the community meetings. I agreed and asked Ed Brooks from my staff to organize the meetings and bring residents out to talk to DOT.
We asked DOT to provide a baseline to work from in order to facilitate the community dialogue. We agreed on three working options:
- Leave the road as it is.
- Add a center turn pocket but lose on street parking (two lanes each direction, no parking).
- “Road Diet” – Add a center turn pocket, narrow the street to one lane each direction, and add a buffered bike lane.
The framework of the discussion would be limited primarily to lane striping changes and signage. Items like traffic signals and lighted crosswalks would not be within the scope of this discussion due to the large capital expenditures required.
We asked DOT for hard data to validate that safety is a legitimate concern on this stretch of roadway. We wanted the conversation to be based on objective facts not on emotional subjectivity.
The DOT data showed that Moorpark Avenue has a high number of accidents when compared to Doyle Road and Williams Road both of which run parallel to Moorpark Avenue. Approximately 80% of accidents are left hand turns both off of Moorpark Avenue and from side streets onto Moorpark Avenue. The bulk of those left turn accidents occur at the Junipero Serra/Camina Escuela intersection. Site lines are bad from both directions, either turning off of or on to Moorpark. During the most recent DOT traffic study conducted April 1, 2015 the top speed in front of Junipero Serra was clocked @ 77.4 MPH. Not a surprise to anyone who lives along this stretch and a definite validation that the time for this discussion is now.
We decided we should take on community feedback in 3 phases:
- Phase 1 – Initial Outreach. Met with all four school principals, both HOA Boards, and the Strawberry Park Neighborhood Association Board. We asked the following – feedback on what safety improvements they envisioned, how the road could best be improved to meet their needs, vote by show of hands which of the three road design options they preferred. We also asked them to help us get access to their communities for additional feedback.
- Phase 2 – Community Outreach. We talked to the communities from phase 1, PTA’s, HOA’s, and NA’s. Again, we asked about the safety items they felt needed to be addressed, their needs for the road, and a show of hands as to the design option they preferred.
- Phase 3 – DOT design reveal. We put an invite out to all the groups we had met with and provided input into the process to join us when DOT brought their plans and showed us what the new vision would be. Again, we asked for a show of hands for approval.
Each geography had their own concerns. Examples were:
- De Vargas wanted to insure that their traffic drop-off and pick-up was not impacted by a redesign, that traffic stacking did not occur into the roadway, and left hand turns into the driveway were not encouraged.
- Mitty wanted longer signal times to exit Mitty Ave in the AM to help reduce gridlock.
- Strawberry Square wanted to alleviate the back-up that locks them in at 7:00 AM, add “Do Not Block” messaging at Junipero Serra, and add a crosswalk so they could walk their children to De Vargas.
- Everyone wanted the speeds to come down.
In all we met with roughly 100 different neighbors during this process. Each time we met with a group we asked for a show of hands and the choice for design was unanimous. Every single resident gave a thumbs up to option 3 (Road Diet).
Now DOT will put this project up for bid and Moorpark Avenue will be transformed by November 2015.