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Safety on Highway 12

Tuesday meeting will focus on how to improve conditions on deadly highway west of Lodi

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Posted: Monday, July 25, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:28 am, Tue Jul 26, 2011.

The public will be given the opportunity on Tuesday to learn about shortand long-term solutions that state and local officials are looking at to make Highway 12 a safer place between Lodi and Napa.

Representatives from Cordoba Consulting will give an overview of safety projects planned for next year in the Tower Park Marina and Bouldin Island areas. These have been the scene of numerous fatal crashes, most recently on July 14, when a Fairfield woman was killed on Highway 12 west of Tower Park Marina.

Representatives from the Highway 12 Corridor Advisory Committee, which include Lodi City Councilman Larry Hansen and San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel, will be present for Tuesday's meeting at the Lodi Public Library. Representatives from the California Department of Transportation, San Joaquin Council of Governments and Solano County are expected to attend, according to Will Ridder, a regional planner for the Council of Governments.

In these tough budget times, it has been impossible to fund long-term improvements to Highway 12. Officials from San Joaquin, Sacramento, Solano and Napa counties have tried for years to improve conditions on Highway 12.

A few projects have been completed, including traffic signals where Highway 12 crosses Davis and DeVries roads. The DeVries project, completed last year, was financed by $466,000 in state and county funds, while the Davis Road signal cost $337,000.

"In this meeting (Tuesday), we're looking at the entire 52-mile stretch from Highway 29 to Interstate 5," Hansen said. "First you find the potential solution; then you find the money."

The next improvement to Highway 12, likely to begin next year, will end the hazardous left turns from westbound Highway 12 to Tower Park Marina. The fully funded, $20.9 million project calls for creating a right-turn cloverleaf to exit Highway 12 near Glasscock Road to get to Tower Park. The money comes from about $15.5 million in state transportation funds and almost $4 million in Measure K funds. Measure K is generated by a half-cent sales tax in San Joaquin County.

The project also includes expansion of the park-and-ride lot at Highway 12 and Thornton Road, Hansen said.

The other significant project, scheduled for later next year, will be on Bouldin Island, located between Tower Park Marina and Rio Vista, Ridder said. The project will include standard shoulders and a concrete median barrier that will eliminate head-on collisions and passing into oncoming traffic, Ridder said.

Tuesday's community meeting will also include a report on traffic projects on Highway 12 between now and 2035, as well as ideas on the most important places for the highway to be expanded to four lanes, or where it can remain two lanes but include a passing or acceleration lane, Ridder said.

Once the presentations are made, visitors can look at maps and other materials while talking to engineers and public officials one to one, Ridder said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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5 comments:

  • John Randall posted at 3:09 pm on Mon, Jul 25, 2011.

    John Randall Posts: 21

    I'd like to call attention to 2 more dangerous "left turn" situations on Highway 12:
    a) Jackson Slough Road. This is heavily used as it leads to the town of Isleton, and to the Oxbow Marina, probably the largest marina in the Delta. Oxbow also has 95 homes. And Jackson Slough Road leads to the "Delta Loop"- one of the busiest recreational areas of the entire Delta...FAR more so than comparatively much smaller Tower Park!
    b) Brannon Island Road: This is another busy road leading into the Delta Loop- lots of vehicles towing boat trailers, RVs, and lots and lots of cars.

    Both of these use locations have TERRIBLE and DANGEROUS unprotected left hand turn lanes. You are stuck in the middle, waiting...while colossal double-trailer rigs thunder by in opposite directions, at 60+ MPH, just a couple feet away from you. Its utterly insane......Russian roulette!

     
  • Jay Samone posted at 2:08 pm on Mon, Jul 25, 2011.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    John, I completely concur with you final statement - get it done. Each year this subject comes up and each year they hold "town hall" meetings where a few concerned citizens show up and the Deputy District Directors from Districts 10, 3 and 4 speak to the public about all the "safety measures" they have put in place. They should have put a concrete barrier decades ago instead of dragging their feet and putting bandaids over a huge gash (i.e., traffic signs and drag strips)........

     
  • John Randall posted at 1:36 pm on Mon, Jul 25, 2011.

    John Randall Posts: 21

    Thanks, Jay, for your "inside" insight. Up in Solano County, Highway 37 winds across challenging topography from Novato to Vallejo. It, too, was once an undulating, undivided narrow "blood alley". It, too, is built on soggy swamp land.
    And it, too, is a vital, heavily traveled link between two vital and populous areas.
    There has been virtually zero fatalities on Highway 37 in decades. Why? Simple: a concrete divider was built down the center. Caltans said it was "impossible"..."unbuildable". "From Wikipedia: "While the Vallejo section of SR 37 was being built, another problem with the route would hinder its progress. The section between Sears Point and Mare Island was plagued with fatal accidents, earning its nickname of "Blood Alley". Between 1966 and 1970, twenty-seven people lost their lives to it. In a preliminary effort to reduce the fatalities, officials established both a daylight test section, requiring all cars to keep their headlights on during the day, and passing lanes. However, these efforts were ineffective.

    In 1993, local resident Jim Poulos campaigned to have a barrier erected after the death of his 18 year old son, Frankie, on Blood Alley. At this time, the situation with this stretch only worsened as the death toll between 1990 and 1996 rose to thirty-one. At first, Caltrans thought the barrier would make matters worse since it would be difficult for emergency vehicles to attend to accidents; environmental issues were also cited. Caltrans was waiting for the ability to create a causeway to span the area instead. Poulos continued his campaign despite opposition, and was granted the barrier in 1995. The barrier was not built without controversy, as it also eliminated the passing lanes. However, since the barriers were built, there were no longer any crossover accidents as of 2005. While the median was built, a few problems needed to be resolved in order for the road to work both safely and in an environmentally friendly way. Emergency personnel needed to quickly access accidents and provide them easy transport to nearby hospitals. To alleviate this problem, Caltrans implemented new electric gate technology, which would allow emergency vehicles to cut through certain parts of the median. The other problem was to both protect the plant life and the salt harvest mice which reside around the highway. As a result, crews placed timbers and sheeting to protect foliage, and they added holes into the median barrier to allow the mice to cross the highway." Today- taking highway 37 is actually ENJOYABLE and scenic. Its safe! And that's all we need to do on Highway 12 until that great day comes when it can finally be a real 4-lane, divided expressway. Just build the concrete median...EXACTLY as was done on Highway 37!

     
  • Jay Samone posted at 11:55 am on Mon, Jul 25, 2011.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    Mr Randall - I worked for CalTrans a few years back for about a minute. District 10 needs to pull their heads out - plain and simple. There is a small stretch of 12 that belongs to District 3 (Sacramento) and the remainder belings to District 4 (Solano). Those two counties have several measures put in place that prevent head-on collisions - such as concrete center barriers. You can tell when you are entering one of these Districts, based on the condition of the road and the safety measures put in place the second you drive it. District 10, however, felt that a strip of grading that makes noise with your wheels when you drive over is enough to stop a drunk or sleepy, or inattentive driver from entering oncoming traffic. The reasons they refuse to put a concrete center in place - especially in the Tower Park area (there's a deadly three or four mile stretch where the most fatalities occur) are the following: they cite environmental reports regarding the "marshland" where near-extinct birds exist and the peat underneath the road which causes the pavement to shift under pressure. If they put in a concrete barrier the entire length of the road, they would have to extend the road on both sides and because of these studies, they cannot environmentally do so - or so I was told. No matter how many times they pave over the huge dips and chinks of missing road, it still sinks because the earth underneath is "marshy". Additionally, they have conducted myriads of speed studies and they feel that the current speed limit is the safest. This reduces the liability to CT because they have done everything they feel they need to in order to protect themselves and cite driver error as the reason for he continuous fatalities. If you attend this meeting - be prepared to hear the above info, along with a myriad of other "excuses" as to why they won't do anything to repair, enlarge or upgrade the road, much less provide adequate safety measures.

     
  • John Randall posted at 9:31 am on Mon, Jul 25, 2011.

    John Randall Posts: 21

    Upgrading Highway 12 is one of the most vital transportation projects in the Central Valley. It is a highly used and vital transportation route that links major several commerce centers. It is hopelessly obsolete and overwhelmed..... completely unsuitable for today's demands and safety standards. Yet, this road saves truckers and motorists huge amounts of time and fuel, compared to traveling all the way around and through Sacramento and adding to the traffic congestion and air pollution there. When this road becomes a modern freeway, it will GREATLY improve commerce, tourism and trade between Lodi and Napa...it will essentially make them "as one". Not to mention ending the never-ending senseless list of traffic deaths that this deadly route racks up each and every year.

     

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