Q I am curious if there would ever be a left-hand turn signal at the intersection Branciforte and Soquel avenues. It's a dangerous intersection for pedestrians and is difficult to get through. A similar situation exists in Watsonville at the exit from the Nob Hill parking lot onto Main Street. I'm sure the cost is prohibitive to make a change but ...

Joan Evans, Watsonville

A "We would like to rebuild that intersection to provide protected -- left turn green arrows -- on all the approaches and eliminate the split phasing for Soquel where one leg of Water Street alternates with the other," said Chris Schneiter, assistant director of the city's public works department.

Besides the lack of funding, Schneiter said "the difficulty" is that several parking spots would have to be removed because the buildings on three corners of the intersection sit on the edge of the sidewalks.

That said, don't count the project out. It could happen in "maybe 10 to 20 years," Schneiter said.

In regard to the getting a turn pocket at Nob Hill, Caltrans looked into the feasibility of adding an additional right turn lane there.

"A right-turn pocket can be added, but would have storage for only one vehicle," said Frank J. Boyle, transportation engineer for Caltrans District 5. "This stems from the fact that, while there is sufficient width at the crosswalk, there is insufficient width to carry the proposed right-turn lane back for any reasonable distance."

Since there is no room for additional vehicles in the proposed right-turn pocket, there's no sense in installing it, he said, noting that vehicles would still block right turning vehicles from accessing the turn pocket.

Without sufficient room for vehicles to be able to access the proposed right-turn pocket, he does not recommend adding the lane at this time.

Parents should lead by example

"Countless times, I see a family out bicycling with children wearing helmets but parents bareheaded. Do those parents think their heads are harder or that their children would do just fine if mom or dad were not around due to a serious head injury sustained while on that bicycle ride? As we hear every time we fly, 'Put your own oxygen mask on first and then assist others.' Seems apropos here, too."

Joyce Nicholson, Santa Cruz

Smart Start Jan. 31

The CHP is hosting its first Start Smart teen driver safety course of the year 6:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Santa Cruz Police Department's Community Room at 155 Center St. Teens and their families will learn about the traffic dangers facing young drivers and their passengers. The course is popular so register early. For information and to RSVP, call 831-662-0511.

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