The Crescent City Council took the first step on Monday toward installing safety improvements along Ninth Street — a road that accounts for nearly a third of all accidents in the city, according to local transportation officials.
Council members unanimously authorized staff to pursue a grant with the Highway Safety Improvement Program.
The Ninth Street project would extend from U.S. Highway 101 to A Street, Wier said. The improvements would address pedestrian and bicycle traffic near the Flynn Administrative Center, Crescent Elk Middle School and Joe Hamilton Elementary School.
“Ninth Street, between Highway 101 south and A Street represents less than 3 percent of the total roadways (in the city),” Public Works Director Eric Wier said. “Yet 29 percent of all accidents (in the city) happen on that stretch. This is a project that’s well suited for this kind of funding.”
The Del Norte Local Transportation Commission had hired a consultant to figure out what the accident rates were on Crescent City’s streets, Wier said.
The funds would pay for splitter islands at the intersections of Ninth and K, G and I streets, said Wier. The city would also install improvements that would decrease the amount of time a pedestrian is in the road.
The federally-funded Highway Safety Improvement Program has increased by 40 percent this year, Wier said. There is a total of $150 million available for projects in California, he said.
When deciding what projects to award funding to, the HSIP considers the severity of the accidents that occur on a road in question and the benefits to be had from improvements to it. All funded projects must have a cost-benefit ratio of more than one, Wier said. The Ninth Street project has a ratio of more than four, he said.
“They have a pre-determined amount on how much accidents cost the community and they look at the benefits of the counter measures that the community is proposing and how much of a cost they would save,” Wier said. “The cost side is based on the construction of the actual improvements you’re doing.”
According to Crescent City Police Chief Doug Plack, most accidents on Ninth Street occur during the afternoon and at dusk and involve pedestrians and bicycles.
“You’re letting out an elementary school and a middle school approximately around the same time,” Plack said. “Plus you have a lot of traffic from businesses going up and down the street and children darting out. (It’s) a high-bicycle location as well.”
Tamera Leighton, executive director of the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission, said the commission provided a consultant to draft the HSIP applications and has agreed to provide match funding for all HSIP-funded projects.
If the project is funded, city staff will provide project oversight, Leighton said. The Crescent City Police Department collects the accident data throughout the city, which, along with the accident reports, should make the Ninth Street project eligible for HSIP funding, she said.
“I would be surprised if Ninth Street weren’t funded through the HSIP program,” Leighton said. “The project will be good for any pedestrian. Every pedestrian accident is concerning.”
The Local Transportation Commission has also selected a consultant to look at the basic transportation infrastructure as well as measure and compare traffic-related issues at Del Norte’s schools. Leighton said that project will likely begin later this month.