Keeping it slow

Traffic calming measures are planned along Howard Avenue in Burlingame.

To address concerns raised by those frustrated with speeding drivers constantly zipping through their community, Burlingame officials approved traffic calming measures for the Lyon Hoag neighborhood.

The Burlingame City Council unanimously agreed to spend $500,000 on restriping, new crosswalks, intersection improvements and other measures intended to limit speeds in the eastside neighborhood between Highway 101 and downtown.

The approval Monday, May 18, comes roughly two years after neighborhood residents hosted a town hall meeting with officials to discuss traffic safety issues and examine ways to improve driver behavior.

Councilman Ricardo Ortiz expressed his appreciation for the patience shown by neighborhood residents who have shown great tolerance while collaborating with officials to design the infrastructure improvements.

“This is a great result,” he said, nodding to the hard work of both residents and city officials.

He also noted the $500,000 is only a small portion of the improvements planned by officials, which could run upwards of $2.5 million once more substantial projects such as traffic circles or intersection reconstructions are completed.

Burlingame officials earlier this month were forced to cut from their capital improvement budget to cover the revenue shortfall brought by the COVID-19 shutdown.

While the initial investment in the Lyon Hoag improvements were already included in the annual budget, questions surround the availability of financing needed to carry out the entire construction program.

For her part, Councilwoman Donna Colson urged Public Works Director Syed Murtuza to remain diligent in seeking additional funding to finish later rounds of projects, once the initial investment is spent.

Noting the neighborhood’s central location, Colson said comprehensively addressing the issue will be essential to the neighborhood’s quality of life.

Mayor Emily Beach too urged swift action.

“Let’s be as aggressive as we can with the budget that we have,” she said.

Most of the neighborhood’s concerns are a function of Lyon Hoag’s location between the Peninsula’s primary thoroughfare and a popular commercial and shopping district near Burlingame Avenue. And with a potential project designed to boost access to Highway 101 from the nearby Peninsula Avenue interchange, Colson added the standing concerns may be compounded over the coming years.

Councilman Michael Brownrigg instructed officials to look for the cheapest and easiest ways to begin making improvements immediately. He questioned how lane striping could consume much of the initial investment, but expected the painting will yield substantial improvements.

“I really do think it will make a difference for the community,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Ann O’Brien Keighran deferred to the expertise of city administrators who crafted the improvement plan and phased strategy for beginning the work.

Under the decision, Murtuza anticipated that the first projects will go out to bid over the summer months which could mean they be finished in 2021. He also attempted to allay the budget concerns, suggesting the pandemic could make projects more difficult for some agencies to afford, potentially building a favorable market for those with available financing.

But after years of planning and plenty more work to do, Brownrigg said it is time for the improvements to begin.

“I say let’s get on with it,” he said.

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