CASTRO VALLEY -- About 18,000 vehicles whiz by John Davidson's home on Crow Canyon Road each day. Last week, that traffic trapped him in his driveway for seven minutes, making him late for a meeting -- one about how to improve safety along the rural road that has become a commuter shortcut between Interstates 580 and 680.
"I'm all in favor of safety, but I'm afraid that if you make it safer, it's going to be even faster," Robinson said at a Wednesday meeting that drew more than 50 people to talk about traffic problems along Crow Canyon, which runs between Castro Valley and San Ramon.
In the past four years, there have been 93 crashes on the narrow, twisting road, two of them fatal. The California Highway Patrol
Wednesday's meeting was the first of three planned as the Alameda County Public Works Agency studies what can be done to make the road safer.
"I've lived on Crow Canyon Road for 14 years. I get tailgated coming in and flipped off coming out," Nancy Massa said. "People are going way too fast."
One resident called the road schizophrenic: It begins with four lanes at its southern end, narrows to two, widens back to four with a grass median, then goes to two lanes as it climbs up to the Contra Costa County line.
Shoulders are narrow or virtually nonexistent along portions, and steep ditches line the sides of the road, which goes from forested areas
The speed limit varies, with one stretch at 40 mph, another 45 mph and a third 50 mph. It drops to 30 mph at some curves, including one locals refer to as Dead Man's Curve, the site of several crashes.
Almost everyone who spoke at the meeting said speed limits need to be lower, and several asked for more enforcement of the current speeds.
Other ideas included rumble strips, which cause a vehicle to vibrate when it veers out of a lane, flashing lights, stop signs, more traffic lights and a center turn lane.
"I'm all for a toll road," said Deborah Santucci, whose family has lived on Crow Canyon for decades. "It would discourage people and add revenue."
Resident Eric Fabianac said that drivers cutting through Crow Canyon Road save about 10 minutes on their commute. "You've got to slow traffic down, make it a deterrent to drive through here," he said.
Traffic has gotten worse as development continues in San Ramon, longtime Crow Canyon Road residents told planners. Last year's traffic count showed an increase of 2,000 vehicles daily from 2008.
The road also is used by commuters wanting to avoid the interchange from eastbound I-580 to I-680, which requires merging several times and driving through a tight curve, said John Goodwin of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
"That interchange was probably perfectly adequate when it was built to meet the needs at the time, but there's been a lot more development and traffic," he said in an interview Thursday.
The Crow Canyon Road safety study area covers a six-mile stretch from Greenridge Road north to the county line. While Crow Canyon Road has been on the MTC's list of projects considered for funding since 2001, no money is currently budgeted for any major improvements.
"We're trying to put ourselves in better position when moneys become available," said Art Carrera, road program manager for
Goodwin said the studies help when it comes time for the regional planning agency to decide which transit projects get funded.
The safety study is being done by Transportation Infrastructure Group of Pleasanton, which will take comments from Wednesday's meeting and come up with possible scenarios to improve the road. Those ideas will be shared at a second public meeting this spring.
"We're looking at anything and everything," said James Chu, supervising civil engineer for county public works. "Everything's on the table. We want to work with the community to make the road safer overall."
Not everyone is convinced that's possible. Massa said she is planning on moving before her daughter, who is almost 14, is old enough to drive because the road is too dangerous for new drivers.
"Why should I have to sell my house and move to make sure my child is safe?" she asked.