Email from Deputy County Executive to MTS
March 22, 2005

Mr. Szoboszlay,

I'm sorry to have taken so long to reply. The County Executive asked me to respond to the concerns you raised  in your January 6 letter.

It's my understanding that Roads and Airports department staff have been in frequent contact with you regarding a number of issues including current and future improvement projects on Montague Expressway as well as maintenance issues related to trimming of vegetation. The Roads  will take action where warranted within its budget constraints. As you may know, the County is experiencing significant budget reductions. The Roads Department has been particularly impacted with the loss of revenues from the State. With regard to the prohibitory signs, which I understand are a significant concern of the Modern Transit Society, the Department has informed me that a project has been initiated to replace  these signs.

I trust the above information is responsive to your concerns. Thank you for your inquiry. Jane Decker

Jane Decker, Deputy County Executive, Santa Clara County

Rebuttal email from MTS to Deputy County Executive,
March 30, 2005

Hello Ms. Decker,

I cannot accept that lack of budget is the reason for not implementing pedestrian safety as required by BOS  policy, as you ascertain, for three reasons:

1) Spending money was the cause of the problem and created 100% of the unsafe situations for pedestrians today. When adding traffic lanes, Mr. Murdter and the County highway engineers have the unsafe practice of destroying pedestrian and bicycle facilities, not because they there is no room in the right of way (which extends 10 feed beyond the curb, typically), but because they won't spend a penny of their budget to relocate such facilities as they would spend to relocate a telephone pole.  Only years later, when very limited TDA funds become available, would they build sidewalks. And that has happened (on Lawrence and southern San Tomas) only as a result of me fighting the department for years to achieve that. In all cases of eliminating pedestrian / bicycle facilities –the safe shoulders—both pedestrians and bicycles were allowed to use the roadway where such unsafe action --pedestrian/bicycle facility destruction-- occurred. There simply were no "pedestrians prohibited" signs where this occurred --including recent destructions on Montague.

2) Millions of dollars are being spent today to widen another portion of Montague, including very expensive bridge widening (over Lafaytte St.)  The cost to trim shrubbery to create a pedestrian path is at most a few days of work for a County gardener: less than $1000.  This is urgent so people don't have to walk in the traffic lane as shown in my photos on our website and in the spreadsheet listing locations. Mr. Murdter is violating County policy by stonewalling on restoring pedestrian facilities --such as inexpensive path creation by shrubbery trimming, as specifically stated in the County Expressway Plan. The shoulders he eliminated are safe as recognized by the County Expressway Plan, Caltrans, and FHWA.  Murdter's claims to the contrary are an attempt to legitimize his destruction of these facilities. His claim is contradicted by forcing people to walk in the traffic lane today --as if that is supposed to be safer than using the shoulders he eliminated.

3) The Department didn’t comply with BOS policy to trim shrubbery for pedestrian safety even when they did have lots of money!  I first went to the BOS in 1991 which adopted this policy at my request (in August 1991.) Mr. Murdter and Department still have not complied despite the fact the current Board adopted –and further expanded-- the same requirements in the County Expressway Plan of 2003. Obviously, the reason for de-facto refusal to comply with BOS policy since 1991 has nothing to do with budget, and everything to due with prejudice and discrimination against pedestrians by County staff. This prejudice and discrimination also was against bicyclists using bike lanes and shoulders until County staff totally lost that fight.

This web page contains examples of unsafe situations with violations of BOS policy highlighed in red (with more examples using the links):

Most importantly, there's a link to the spreadsheet containing all the unsafe situations and solutions at the bottom (repeated here, click to download):

-Akos Szoboszlay
Modern Transit Society

See more safety problems: Montague Photo Gallery.

Also see: Expressway topics, links page.

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