DANVILLE -- Despite opposition from residents on the southern, more rural portions of Lawrence Road, the town council unanimously approved Tuesday night the establishment of a three-way stop and other traffic measures, to prevent future serious accidents at the busy intersection of Lawrence and Jasmine Way.
"I didn't want this to be a south end versus north end, but clearly the south end lives differently from the north end, and that's the beauty of Lawrence Road," said Mayor Robert Storer. "But I have to act on this and what we have here before us are safety concerns from the neighborhood -- and when you factor in Diablo Vista school, the concerns become even more real."
Proponents of the traffic improvements, which include about 65 residents in streets off the north part of Lawrence Road, say that the area has been the site of three serious accidents and numerous near misses. They pleaded for the council to take action so as to prevent an eventual serious injury or death.
Laura Lee and her husband Evan, who have lived in the Freesia Court cul-de-sac that backs up against Lawrence Road for 16 years, said they never imagined how dangerous it would become after increased development of the area and the building of Diablo Vista Middle School nearby.
In one accident, "a truck narrowly missed going through my kitchen window by three feet," Laura Lee said. The second accident, which took out a bevy of trees near her home, left vehicle parts that her family still is finding in their yard.
"Yes, I do think of property damage, but these are things," Lee said of the threat that a car could hit their home. "How do you replace life? My kids and neighbors' kids rarely play outside ... We're just afraid. Next time it could be one of my family members eating in the kitchen, since that truck came really close to that...or could be one of our neighbors. "
Foes of the plan -- about 93 residents who live in the southern portions of Lawrence Road and are petitioning against it -- said it would result in slower driving and more stop-and-go traffic in their area. They also opposed the signs, they said, because they would go against promises made in the 1990s that with increased development, stop signs wouldn't be put up -- and there are two others stop signs nearby.
They also said they feel that the town isn't doing enough to ensure safety along all of Lawrence Road, like trimming trees and bushes and not parking town and utility vehicles along it that might get in the way of movement and visibility.
"You are not looking far enough down Lawrence Road to make Lawrence Road a safer road," said Doug Jensen, who opposed the signs and median.
Opponents also worried that the raised center medians, which would channel traffic, would make it difficult for them to tow their trailers, boats and motor homes, but Tai Williams, the town's community development director, said they should be wide enough to accommodate them.
A number of residents said they faced as a "blind curve" of reduced visibility at Lawrence and Plumeria Court -- located just north of where the stop signs are to be put up -- which makes it difficult to see cars coming northward.
"Every morning when I drive out there, I look to the right, I look to the left and then I look to the right again, and then I make my turn, holding my breath," said Rose Loch, a Gerbera Court resident.
Stop signs are crucial to ensure the safety of many, she said.
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/joycetsainews.