Central Avenue median as it looks today. (Note to photographer: Clean lens.)
From the 12.12.12 edition.
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By Jack Durham
Several roadway and pedestrian-friendly improvements are coming to Central Avenue, School Road and Murray Road in McKinleyville. The town will also get some new road connections in the coming years.
Humboldt County Public Works – which has jurisdiction over unincorporated McKinleyville’s roads – is planning to install a raised median strip with left-hand turn pockets on Central Avenue from School Road to Hiller Road. The department has received $800,000 in funding for the project.
Before it begins the design process, the department wants to get public input, Public Works Director Tom Mattson will bring the project before the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) at its meeting Wednesday, Dec. 19. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. the McKinleyville Community Services District Office at 1656 Sutter Road.
Central Avenue has four traffic lanes with a continuous left-hand turn lane in the center. According to Mattson, Central Avenue is the busiest street in the county’s road system, with an average of 18,000 vehicles a day traveling on the town’s main thoroughfare.
The proposed median strip is intended to reduce accidents on Central Avenue. From 2001 to 2010, there were a total of 97 traffic accidents on Central Avenue, according to county statistics. There was one accident that resulted in a fatality, five accidents that resulted in severe injuries, 27 that resulted in “visible injuries,” and 64 that resulted in “complaints of pain.”
The county hopes to begin construction on the new median next summer.
For years parents of McKinleyville High School students have complained of unsafe conditions on Murray Road, which is four lanes wide with a center turn median.
One of the problem spots is at Murray Road’s intersection with Little Pond Street. There are no stop signs for Murray Road at this location, nor is there a crosswalk. Students from the nearby subdivision dart across all five lanes to get to the sidewalk on the other side. (There is a full sidewalk on the south side of Murray Road, but no sidewalk on the north side.)
Public Works hopes to build a turn pocket/pedestrian crossing at the intersection.
Local developer Mark Rynearson, who keeps informed about local projects, said at the Nov. 28 McKMAC meeting that the pedestrian crossing would be similar to the one on Samoa Boulevard in Arcata near Porter Street Barbecue. Students could cross two lanes of traffic, then seek refuge on the elevated island on the median before continuing their journey. There wouldn’t be any stop signs.
The project is estimated to cost $100,000 and may be completed next summer.
Stoplight proposed at
Murray Rd./Central Ave.
Traffic has increased over the years at the intersection of Central Avenue and Murray Road, where there is now a four-way stop with stop signs.
Mattson said that one project that is on the county’s radar is to install stoplights at the intersection. There is no time line yet for this project.
Central Ave. shoulder widening near Mill Creek
In the coming year the county plans to widen the shoulders on Central Avenue in the Mill Creek area. Right now there are two traffic lanes. On either side are tiny shoulders which are about a foot wide, providing little room for bicycles or pedestrians.
The county has received $250,000 from the State Transportation Improvement Program. The shoulders will be widened to four feet on each side from Bartow Road to the driveway uphill to the south just across the creek.
School Road east
Work on School Road from Central Avenue to U.S. Highway 101 was on hold this year. It was a timing issue with Pacific Gas & Electric, which wasn’t able to bury its electrical lines until next year.
In the coming summer, PG&E will put its electrical lines underground and remove the power poles on the north side of School Road. Then, in 2014, the county will construct a roundabout near the intersection of School Road and Salmon Avenue. Eventually, McKinleyville Avenue will be extended across the new subdivision, curve west and connect to the roundabout.
School Rd. west
Sidewalks will be installed on both sides of School Road from U.S. Highway 101 to Fischer Road in 2014. The road will also be repaved.
Heartwood Drive will be extended from Central Avenue to McKinleyville Avenue as part of the development of a subdivision that will be built in the area. There’s no time line yet for the project.
Some of the projects were briefly discussed at the Nov. 28 meeting of the McKMAC. Part of the advisory committee’s charter requires that the Humboldt County Department of Public Works provide a monthly update of projects in McKinleyville to the McKMAC.
Such notification is a major improvement in communications between McKinleyville and Public Works.
In the past, McKinleyville residents often didn’t know anything about road projects until white lines were painted on pavement and work crews arrived, said McKinleyville Community Services District Interim General Manager Greg Orsini at the Nov. 28 McKMAC meeting.
But now that’s changed. Public Works is communicating with the MCSD and sending over information about projects. The McKMAC now provides a forum to discuss the projects.