OAKLAND -- The proposed plan for the reduction of lanes on 35th Avenue -- otherwise known as a "road diet" -- has officially been dropped by the City of Oakland Traffic Services Division, according to Bruce Stoffmacher, a community liaison for District 4 Councilwoman Libby Schaaf's office.
"After a yearlong process of investigation and outreach, the Traffic Services Division has concluded that, although a road diet has the potential to reduce automobile speed and pedestrian exposure, the existing traffic volume on 35th Avenue and Redwood Road point to a likelihood of congestion," Stoffmacher told residents. "The existing, protective left-turn pockets in the median limit the potential safety upgrade."
The road diet was originally proposed by independent consultants as a means of reducing speed and accidents along 35th Avenue between Redwood Road and MacArthur Boulevard more than a year ago.
The study was conducted in response to a number of resident complaints about speed-limit violations and accidents in the area. While residents admit that there is a problem on 35th Avenue, opinions have varied about how to solve it.
When the road diet was first suggested at a community meeting, there was so much opposition that Schaaf formed a working group to evaluate the matter.
While road diets have been successfully used in other parts of the city, reducing accidents by as much as 19 percent, similar roads, with left-turn pockets, saw
"We all still recognized that speeding is an issue," Stoffmacher said. He said Schaff's office will continue to work to address the issue.
Barbara Ciu, a resident of the Redwood Heights neighborhood for 73 years, was adamantly opposed to the plan to reduce the number of lanes. Ciu, a member of Schaff's working group, said the group gathered nearly 1,000 signatures opposing the road diet.
"This was a big relief and a nice Christmas present," Ciu said. "It just shows you that people can make a difference. We've been working on this issue since September 2011."
In 1971, 35th Avenue was widened to four lanes from two to accommodate increased traffic from commercial and residential developments on Redwood Road and other nearby areas. Ciu worked on that project 42 years ago.
Amy Morgan, a Redwood Heights resident and a member of the working group, is also relieved to hear that the project has been abandoned.
"We will fight this again if it comes up," Morgan said. " I don't know many people that were for this."
Morgan maintained that other solutions were not examined during the process. "We are looking at all options, including making crosswalks more visible with high-visibility paint, flashing lights and better signage," Stoffmacher said.
A traffic signal at 35th Avenue and Wisconsin, though costly, would help ameliorate the situation. Traffic signals can cost as much as $400,000. Wisconsin Avenue is 17th on Oakland's list for traffic signals to install, Stoffmacher said. He said Schaff's office is considering looking for federal grants to fund the project.