Transportation problems being evaluated at Paly

Maddy Jones, Author

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The City of Palo Alto is going to improve transportation safety and efficiency after collecting data last Tuesday, Sept. 24, that showed how students in the district are getting to school.

“They’re looking at efficiency and safety,” Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson said. “They [efficiency and safety] don’t always agree with each other and that’s the problem”.

City representatives recorded data throughout the district on safety and how students were getting to school, according to Berkson. This data will be used to propose solutions to the transportation problems.

“It’s a joint effort [of the City of Palo Alto],” Berkson said.

Some of their points of interest, related to Paly, were at the intersection of Churchill and Alma, and the traffic lights on Embarcadero next to Paly.

Both the intersection and the lights are used daily by students and commuters alike and have been known to become congested during peak hours.

The problem with the lights on Embarcadero is that they are independent of each other, which can cause traffic. A simple solution could be to sync up the lights, but that is a long and expensive project, according to Berkson.

“They all work as efficient as possible,” Berkson said. “But you don’t just wave a magic wand and put them all on one system.”

The intersection at Churchill and El Camino have problems both before and after school, according to Berkson.

In the morning, bike and car commuters alike converge, which increases the potential for accidents and decreases the efficiency of the intersection. According to Berkson, the district is working particularly on improving the right turn off of Alma onto Churchill.

After school, the problem is that students will exit from school and continue along on the school’s side of the road (which is the wrong side of the road) and is unsafe behavior that also has the potential to cause accidents, according to Berkson.

The difficulty with solving these problems, according to Berkson, is that the simple solutions do not work out because they cause a domino affect of problems on a different area and then another one and so on, so the problems become too complex to answer effectively.

The surveys brought up problems that have answers that are complex and may never be solved completely, according to Berkson.

“I don’t think there will be a final [plan for everything] because there’s so many different factors,” Berkson said. “It would cost, to make everything perfect, if it was even possible to make things perfect, it would be millions.”