A proposal by state, county and local officials to add a traffic signal at the Interstate 280/Page Mill Road interchange is encountering resistance from Los Altos Hills residents, who are circulating a petition that claims the change would make safety and traffic in the area even more problematic. More than 30 Palo Alto residents have also signed the petition.
"We are deeply worried that the signalization project would jeopardize our safety, further erode our rural environment and negatively impact our property values," states the petition, which is available online at pagemill280.org. "The implementation of the signalization project would result in a number of risk factors affecting not only the neighborhood in the vicinity of the interchange but also numerous other areas of Los Altos Hills."
The residents are asking the Los Altos Hills City Council, the Santa Clara County and the state Department of Transportation (better known as Caltrans) to reconsider the proposed change, which proponents say is being driven by safety concerns in the busy area around Page Mill Road and Arastradero Road.
The southbound ramp typically experiences long backups during peak commute hours. A January 2013 traffic study found that cars waited more than 90 seconds at the intersection during the morning commute.
"The purpose of this project is to enhance the safety of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians by regulating traffic movements and minimizing driver confusion which was found to be the cause of the accidents within these intersections," Bijan Sartipi, district director for Caltrans, wrote in a response to Los Altos Hills resident Garo Kiremidjian.
Sartipi said an investigation of accidents in the area revealed "numerous accidents at the subject intersections that were caused by driver confusion and are correctable by traffic signals."
"In addition to addressing the vehicular accidents at the intersections, there are other benefits associated with the proposed signals, such as facilitating difficult turning movements currently uncontrolled, safe pedestrian crossings, orderly flow of bicycle traffic, as well as reduced queuing on the exit ramps," Sartipi wrote. "The new signals will be traffic actuated and interconnected, and will operate in a manner so as not to create excessive or disproportionate traffic delays and vehicular queuing on Page Mill and Arastradero Roads."
But critics of the plan believe the project would merely shift traffic problems during peak hours off 280 to other roads, including Arastradero, Purissima, Fremont and Foothill Expressway.
"This will substantially impact travel times to and from Palo Alto area offices and cause further deterioration of fast freeway access," the petition states.
As of last Friday, the petition had 332 signatures, according to a letter Kiremidjian sent to the Los Altos Hills City Council.
The council is scheduled to hear an update on the signalization project at its meeting on Thursday at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers, 26379 Fremont Road, Los Altos Hills.