The Hoover hover
Parents who drive their kids to Hoover Elementary are finding Charleston-Arastradero road changes not necessarily helping
Although she lives around the corner on Middlefield Road, it takes Carole Borie 30 minutes to get her son to Hoover Elementary School on most mornings. If she leaves any later, her son will miss the 8 a.m. start bell.
The same goes for Natasha Crum. She lives across the street, but drives her daughter to Hoover for safety reasons. It takes the Palo Alto mom 10 minutes to make the short drive.
For many parents, the Charleston-Arastradero Corridor Project has not helped ease the traffic congestion at the East Charleston Road campus during drop-off and pick-up times, as the project was supposed to. While some parents say the heavy morning and afternoon traffic has remained the same and others say it has gotten worse, many agree that it at least has not gotten better.
"It slows down the process in the morning," said Borie, whose husband takes the couple's other child to Terman Middle School on most days. "I try to arrive at 7:45 or I get caught in the traffic."
The Charleston-Arastradero corridor spans 2.3 miles through residential and commercial areas and passes by 11 schools. The $1.1 million corridor project aims to ease traffic congestion, improve bicycle-lane access and pedestrian safety and encourage people to use alternative transportation.
The first phase of the project, which has been in place since the beginning of this school year, includes pavement striping and resurfacing along Charleston Road from Fabian Way to El Camino Real, traffic-signal improvements and modifications to the entrance to Gunn High School.
The city has also reduced the number of lanes in front of Hoover Elementary School from four to two, created a right turn lane for westbound cars turning into the school's entrance, as well as new pedestrian and bike crosswalks on Charleston Road at Mumford Place and Wright Avenue.
While he says traffic is slower, Hoover parent Sifuei Ku said he is glad there is a new bike lane on East Charleston.
"I used to bike to work," he said, dropping his student off at school Monday morning.
The traffic situation at Hoover is complicated by the existing one-way in and one-way out set up for drivers coming to the school. Only westbound cars can enter the site. Those heading eastbound have to drive past the school and make a U-turn at Nelson Drive to return to the school.
"There is not enough room to comfortably make the U-turn, and more important, it is not safe since . . . it will block the view of oncoming traffic," wrote one Hoover parent to the city.
When exiting Hoover, cars can only turn right onto East Charleston Road and head westbound.
"It's horrible that we can only make a right. That holds up traffic," Crum said on a rainy morning this week.
The city has been collecting feedback to help assess the effectiveness of its traffic-slowing methods on the whole stretch of road. About 40 percent of the comments have so far been critical of the project, while 30 percent liked the changes.
"I walk or bike with my children back and forth to school every day, and our school route has become vastly safer now that cars are driving closer to the posted 25 mph speed limit," wrote Sonya Bradski.
Another neighbor thought the changes were working already.
"I have definitely noticed less speeding -- a definite indication of traffic calming, which was the main purpose of the project," wrote Betty Lum, who lives off Arastradero Road.
Others weren't so happy with the project, saying it has negative and potentially dangerous ramifications for cars and pedestrians in the neighborhood.
"It takes me twice as long to get places. Especially bad are traffic jams during the rush hour," wrote Leo Volpe.
Igor Malik has been working as a crossing guard at Hoover for about three years. He avoids the morning traffic by parking at nearby Mitchell Park and walking to the school.
"There's more than enough parking for the whole Hoover population there," he said. "I would say about 15 to 20 percent of the parents are doing that, but the rest choose to put up with the traffic everyday.
"When I used to drive here, I would get so annoyed I just stopped doing it," he added.
Another Hoover parent, Judy Cheng, offered this suggestion: "Leave earlier."
Staff Writer Alexandria Rocha can be e-mailed at email@example.com, and Staff Writer Molly Tanenbaum can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.