Belmont’s Ralston Avenue can be a headache in the mornings as it is the only way to access the region’s two major highways to get to work. It gets clogged near Ralston Middle School every morning and afternoon as children are dropped off and picked up and bicyclists say it is downright dangerous to ride on, especially when motorists exceed the 40 mph in the hills west of Alameda de las Pulgas.
Recently, the City Council committed $150,000 to study the corridor and find ways to ease the commute and is asking the public to help solve the problem.
A community meeting was held in April to discuss the road’s most troubled spots and where there may be opportunities for improvement.
Tomorrow night, a workshop will be held to discuss the data collected so far by an outside consultant and findings of a traffic analysis. The public will be asked to review and provide input for preliminary design concepts.
Ralston’s traffic woes are nothing new to the city, however, which prompted Councilwoman Coralin Feierbach to not support funding the study since it is money that was committed toward street repairs.
“I didn’t vote for the study because street repair money of $150,000 was used on yet another study,” Feierbach wrote the Daily Journal in an email. “We could have used the $150,000 to repair a few roads in town instead. If we had used other money instead of street repair money, I would have voted for it.”
Ralston Avenue is an east-west divided arterial and a major thoroughfare that extends from State Route 92 and Interstate 280 in the west to Highway 101 in the east. The cross section varies from four lanes at its western end to two lanes near Alameda de las Pulgas and widens back to four lanes near Twin Pines Park and City Hall.
Ralston gets about 35,000 vehicle trips a day.
A signature-gathering effort is also underway to urge the City Council to modernize Ralston Avenue to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Former Belmont resident Mike Swire started the petition to reduce the number of serious accidents and deaths on the city’s only east-west connection and fastest thoroughfare and has gotten 662 signatures so far.
One of the goals of the signature-gathering effort is to have the city reduce speeds on Ralston to 25 mph in all sections.
That reduced speed might work on some stretches of Ralston, said Vice Mayor Warren Lieberman.
“That might be applied on lower Ralston but difficult to implement west of Alameda toward (Interstate) 280,” Lieberman said.
The city may be able to protect bicyclists on some stretches of the road without reducing the speed of cars by installing a small physical barrier, he said.
“It is just an idea now but we need to continue to share between cars and bikes,” Lieberman said.
As this corridor is diverse in pedestrian activity, traffic patterns and community character, the corridor has been broken into three distinct segments:
• Area 1 (downtown) — Highway 101 to South Road;
• Area 2 (middle segment) — South Road to Alameda de las Pulgas;
• Area 3 (western segment) — Alameda de las Pulgas to State Route 92.
As the project progresses, the concepts developed for each area will be blended to create a comprehensive plan for improving access and mobility along the entire corridor, according to consultant Alta Planning & Design.
The workshop for the Ralston Avenue Corridor Study is 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 18, Twin Pines Senior and Community Center, 20 Twin Pines Lane, Belmont.
To learn more go to www.ralstonavenuecorridorstudy.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106