The City of Hollister is seeking public input for the next phase of “traffic calming” projects to slow down motorists in local neighborhoods and improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and other travelers.
One such project is already underway on Central Avenue in northwest Hollister. Currently under construction, the project includes new “mini-traffic circles” at select intersections, rubber curbs to make portions of the vehicle lanes narrower, curbside “bulb outs” into the roadway shoulder, and new striping and accessible ramps, Hollister’s Acting City Engineer Mark Falgout said.
The Central Avenue project is located on about a 1.5-mile stretch between Marguerite Drive and Locust Avenue. The project is expected to cost about $656,500, including design and outreach expenses, Falgout said.
Sections of Sally Street and Buena Vista Road are slated for a similar traffic calming treatment in the near future. The city has scheduled two online public meetings about these projects in the coming weeks: July 14 for Buena Vista Road and July 15 for Sally Street.
Both these projects are still in “concept form” with no schedule or costs yet determined, but the proposals currently include new roadway installations similar to those on Central Avenue, city staff explained.
The city has already held one community meeting about the Sally Street and Buena Vista projects. “The neighbors on both streets supported measures to reduce speed and potentially cut through traffic,” Falgout said in an email to the Free Lance.
After the last meeting, based on public input, city staff updated the proposals with “speed cushions” that force motorists to slow down upon approach.
The traffic calming projects are inspired by a consensus that speeding and reckless driving have become significant problems on the neighborhood streets.
Dennis Simunovich, a resident and business owner on Buena Vista Road, said almost every day he sees or hears a regular cohort of muscle car drivers speeding past his auto body repair shop at about 60 mph or faster. The speed limit in that area is 30 mph.
The city has collected precise data that shows motorists speed frequently on Sally Street and Buena Vista Road, Falgout added. The data classifies both speeding and cut-through traffic as “significant.”
Simunovich, who owns Dennis’ Body Shop and has lived on the property for 60 years, added that he has witnessed a handful of accidents over the years.
“I understand people have to go to work, but they’ve got to slow down,” Simunovich said. “They’re just driving way too fast down this road.”
But he’s not a fan of the city’s traffic calming concept for the road. He thinks speed bumps seem to be the most effective way to slow motorists down without impacting other travelers. Other concepts like mini-roundabouts and raised median islands are unnecessary and potentially hazardous, in Simunovich’s opinion.
The city’s public works and engineering staff think otherwise. The mini-traffic circles are center islands placed in unsignalized intersections, requiring drivers to slow down in order to safely maneuver around them, according to a city staff presentation.
Raised rubber median islands are designed to narrow the vehicle travel lanes, also encouraging slower speeds, the city’s presentation adds. Other roadway installation concepts in the city’s traffic calming “toolbox”—including those under construction on Central Avenue—are more speed limit and speed radar signs, new lane striping, raised intersections, realigned intersections, new crosswalks and curb extensions.
The Buena Vista Road project is proposed between just west of Beresini Lane and San Benito Street in downtown Hollister. This stretch runs parallel to the Central Avenue improvements, about three blocks north.
The Sally Street project is proposed from Hawkins Street and Nash Road.
The proposals aim to preserve on-street parking and driveway access for existing residences on both roads.
The city’s Hollister Complete Streets Plan, compiled in 2020, studied the Buena Vista Road section and three other corridors that are ripe for safety and comfort improvements. Others are Santa Ana Road from downtown to the eastern city limits, Meridian Street and Memorial Drive.
“Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access of the transportation network by all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders regardless of age and abilities,” says the introduction to the 2020 study.
Both the July 14 and July 15 meetings will take place from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.
To participate in the Buena Vista Road meeting (July 14), visit https://kimley-horn.zoom.us/w/95634341938.
For the July 15 Sally Street meeting, visit https://kimley-horn.zoom.us/w/91959140878.
MINI-ROUNDABOUTS An image from the City of Hollister’s plans for Central Avenue shows the layout of a mini-traffic circle and other traffic calming proposals in the roadway and on the curbsides.
Credit: City of Hollister
SALLY STREET An image from a city staff presentation shows where Sally Street is proposed for traffic calming improvements between Hawkins Street and Nash Road. The purple dots in the image show where mini-traffic circles are proposed.
Credit: City of Hollister