Traffic upgrade at one of city’s most dangerous intersections

After a three-year wait, one of Hollister’s most dangerous
intersections will soon be equipped with traffic lights.
The City Council passed a resolution Monday to install traffic
signals at the corner of Union Road and Airline Highway. The
$180,000 project will begin immediately.
After a three-year wait, one of Hollister’s most dangerous intersections will soon be equipped with traffic lights.

The City Council passed a resolution Monday to install traffic signals at the corner of Union Road and Airline Highway. The $180,000 project will begin immediately.

Since Airline Highway is state-owned, Hollister will be responsible for $139,000 of the construction costs and Caltrans will finance the cost of the engineering design and advertisements for soliciting bids, estimated at $41,000.

“It’s an issue where the community and a number of people have wanted a stoplight for quite some time,” said Clint Quilter, Hollister public works director.

Officials began project talks in 1999 shortly after the city placed a four-way stop sign at the intersection, but it was continually delayed “for one reason or another,” Quilter said.

“The simple reason was that we had to work through things with Caltrans,” said Councilman Tony Bruscia, who said he crosses the intersection most days on his commute to work. “They have requirements for traffic flows before they’ll allow a stop signal and on a highway that they have jurisdiction over.”

The most recent traffic study that rated local intersections and their danger levels was performed in 1999. It classified the 15 worst intersections into three levels of accident frequency, or collisions per million vehicles.

The Union Road and Airline Highway intersection rated into the second grouping, which is made up of traffic areas involving 0.4 to 0.8 collisions per million vehicles. The most dangerous intersection at the time of the study was at Third and San Benito streets, where a traffic signal was installed nearly two years ago.

“Most of the day, I don’t think it’s a heavily burdened intersection,” Bruscia said. “But certainly, at peak times of the commute, it’ll help.”

The current traffic light project was not a result of the Traffic Calming study completed in December by Higgins and Associates, a city-hired consultant. Although that study did identify the intersection as a “Candidate location for traffic calming.”

The reason for the classification was a higher than normal frequency of accidents caused by people driving at unsafe speeds. Throughout Hollister since 1989, there have been 2,175 accidents, according to the study.

“We’re just glad to get it rolling and get it in there,” Quilter said.

Two other traffic signals are also being installed in the same area. Traffic lights are going up at the Union and Southside roads intersection, just west of Airline Highway and Union Road, and another is being installed at the Union Road and San Benito Street intersection. Both of these signal installations fall under county jurisdiction.

When Quilter arrived in 1989, the city operated six traffic signals and now the number has increased by more than 100 percent. He did not have the exact figure.

He also was not sure when the signals at Union Road and Airline Highway would be completed. Traffic Engineer Matt Atteberry could not be reached for the information.

The Traffic Calming Study also stated that traffic signals do not necessarily decrease the frequency of accidents at an intersection. Other strategies for increasing traffic safety include speed limit signs, speed monitoring trailers and police enforcement.

Most Dangerous Intersections

The top 15 intersections in Hollister for the number of collisions per million vehicles. The locations are categorized into three groupings.

Most Dangerous (0.8 to 1.2 collisions per million vehicles)

Third and San Benito streets

Dangerous (0.4 to 0.8 c/mv)

Union and Airline

Bolsa and San Felipe

Santa Ana and San Felipe

Meridian and McCray

Fourth and East

Line and South

Tres Pinos and Airline

Sunset and Airline

Hazardous (0 to .4 c/mv)

McCloskey and Hwy. 156

Bolsa and San Felipe

Maple and San Felipe

Fourth and San Benito

South and San Benito

Sunnyslope and Clearview

Bolsa and San Felipe

Maple and San Felipe

Fourth and San Benito

South and San Benito

Sunnyslope and Clearview

Source: Citywide Traffic Collision Study

In other business

The Hollister City Council approved the completed portion of the Hollister Civic Center design work, which is 65 percent finished. The same proposal will now go to the Hollister Planning Commission for approval. Once the design is completed, which officials hope will be by the end of 2003, the project will go out for construction bids.

“If anything changes (from that meeting with the Planning Commission), we’ll go back to the drawing board,” City Engineer Luis Aguilar said.

The project is slated to cost between $13 million and $15 million and will centrally house 10 city departments at the site of the former Fremont School.

The Council also:

Authorized street closure for the Memorial Day Ceremony and Re-dedication of the Veterans Memorial Building from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 26. The building has been undergoing renovations since August.

Proclaimed May 11-17 as “Bike to Work Week.” The Council also designated May 15 as “Bike to Work Day.” The campaign is designed to promote relief of traffic congestion.

Approved a three-year contract with Hollinet.com to provide e-mail hosting services and a T-1 Internet connection for the city network, which will feature a single port at City Hall. Before the agreement, each city department maintained its own DSL connection. The monthly cost will be $850 per month, up from the previous $636 per month.

“It sounds like a pretty good deal,” Mayor Brian Conroy said.

Said goodbye to Interim City Manager Ed Kreins. Monday was his last Council meeting, as City Manager Dale Shaddox begins work May 5.

“I don’t think we could’ve found a better interim city manager,” Conroy said.

“This Council’s made it very easy for me to walk into an organization…” Kreins said.

Kreins will continue working until May 2. He has also been contracted to perform the search for Hollister’s next police chief.

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