WARNING to the highway engineers: BACK OFF!

Important sentences are in RED.

Email: From MTS, July 11, 2002
To: Dan Collen, Highway and Bridge Design Department, Santa Clara County

At the BPAC meeting last night you stated that "We have jurisdiction over the expressways." I would like to refer you to legal opinions from attorneys, all of whom when asked this question, have stated that jurisdiction is by the cities. My recollection is that an earlier opinion from County Counsel did also, and I gave you copies of those legal opinions in 1996. The County is the property owner, but does NOT have jurisdiction.

In addition to police powers (enforcement) that the cities have that you stated, cities also set the rules of the road, within State limits. This means the cities, not the County, can determine whether or not pedestrians are prohibited, and then only within State limits. The reason I feel I need to state this is that, besides omitting this information from your answer at the meeting, the draft 'Pedestrian Plan Guidelines' attempts to impose pedestrian prohibitions where certain features are lacking with a total disregard of both State law and city ordinances.

I must also add that the pedestrians cannot be blamed for lack of appropriate facilities. Only the Highway and Bridge Design Dept. is responsible. There is even the episode of the destroyed sidewalks on Montague. Sidewalks existed on both sides of the bridge over Coyote River originally, but first one side was eliminated, then the other (by you as project engineer, I believe). But only one side was restored, and only years later, from TDA [pedestrian] funds instead of being part of the original project, both in terms of schedule and funding. If you relocate telephone poles or acquire property in order to add lanes, who pays for that? They don't, the lane-adding-project funding does.

Using TDA funds for lane-addition projects is the same as eliminating an equivalent length of sidewalk from being constructed elsewhere on expressways. Use of TDA funds to construct traffic lanes is wrong. It is stealing money from another intended purpose. Your Department also attempted to use transit funds, and later guideway funds, for highway construction, by claiming that private automobiles are "transit" and HOV lanes are "guideways". I wrote the articles which appeared in the MTS newsletter at the time. Here's the link:


The same web page has another article: The County highway engineers tried to have the County seek legislation in Sacramento to have the County overrule the cities and prohibit bicycles on expressways in 1987-88. They lost before the Supervisors by 4-1 vote. I led the successfull effort on the side of non-polluting transportation. I hope staff's unsafe Pedestrian Plan Guidelines and your statements on jurisdiction are not a forerunner of trying to repeat that episode --this time against pedestrians. If so, the outcome I believe can be predicted, but it would be a huge waste of staff time, committee member time, time of elected officials, my time and time of other advocates. In the unlikely event it passed, I would go to Sacramento as I have done previously to thwart your department's efforts. MTS also has a strong Sacramento presence, being responsible for the return of LRT there as well as here. Best to just accept the Safe Pedestrian Plan Guidelines I handed out.

I have no desire to reflect negatively on the Highway and Bridge Design Dept. But if I need to use transportation history to fend off an attack by your department on pedestrians and transit patrons, by eliminating their right to travel and by putting them in danger, so be it.

MTS has a new Internet address. Links for expressways are now on this page:



-Akos Szoboszlay,

Also see:

Next email: Total disregard for the law by County highway engineers

Rebuttal to the County highway engineers

Expressway topics, links page

home page | about MTS | Cashout | HOV lanes | Bay Bridge | Solution | Allow Pedestrians! | AGT | letters | webmaster