From the 12.26.12 edition
By Jack Durham
Press Editor & Reporter
Placing a median strip down Central Avenue would reduce vehicle accidents and “enhance the overall ambiance of the community,” according to Chris Whitworth, Deputy Director of Humboldt County Public Works.
Whitworth discussed the project at the Dec. 19 meeting of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC).
The county has received $800,000 in funding for the proposed median, which would be built from School Road to Hiller Road. The main impetus for the project is to reduce accidents on Central Avenue, which is the most-traveled and most-accident-prone road in the county’s system.
Central Avenue averages 18,000 vehicles a day, with about five to 10 vehicle accidents a year, according to Whitworth. Studies have shown that the installation of raised medians with dedicated left-hand-turn lanes can reduce accident rates from 25 percent to 50 percent, Whitworth told the McKMAC.
Central Avenue between Hiller and School Road has two lanes in each direction divided by a continuous, uninterrupted center turn lane. One person at the meeting described the existing median as a “suicide lane.”
Whitworth said the county is planning a raised median with a “hardscape” surface made of cement patterned and colored to look like brick. Left-hand turn lanes would be included along the median.
McKMAC Chairman Ben Shepherd inquired about the possibility of including landscaping in the median, and noted that there’s already an existing Central Avenue Landscape Maintenance Zoned administered by the McKinleyville Community Services District, Merchants and property owners pay a monthly fee on their combined sewer and water bills to maintain landscaping on either side of Central Avenue.
Whitworth said that landscaping was a possibility, but there would have to be a way to pay for its maintenance, something that the county doesn’t have funds to do. One option is to include low-maintenance trees in the median.
“We have a lot of leeway to modify what we’ve proposed,” Whitworth said.
The median project will likely return to the McKMAC at a future meeting, The county hopes to start construction next summer,
The McKMAC can be reached at email@example.com.