A recent article from the North Coast Journal about ongoing efforts to reduce serious traffic accidents in Eureka is timely and enlightening. The City of Eureka has taken the sensible approach of mapping the most dangerous intersections, identifying the causes of crashes, and (in addition to stepping up education and enforcement) “identify[ing] problems with road layout, visibility, signage, signal timing and other safety issues.” Contrast that with Caltrans’ approach to the roads under its jurisdiction. Rather than following Eureka’s approach of identifying dangerous spots and figuring out what can be done about them, the state agency, as usual, is trying to justify road capacity increases with unsupported safety claims. It seems almost unbelievable a transportation agency would argue with a straight face that adding lanes – and thus increasing traffic speed – through a busy downtown would increase safety, but that’s exactly what Caltrans is saying.
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