Major construction project starting on Highway 9
File photograph by George Sakkestad A bicyclist and motorist cross paths at the intersection of Highway 9 and Fruitvale Avenue in Saratoga. Phase four of the Highway 9 Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Improvement Project was set to begin this week. This next phase will focus on pedestrian improvements in Monte Sereno and Saratoga.
The grassroots Highway 9 Safety Committee formed in early 2004 after a bicyclist was killed along a stretch of the roadway in Monte Sereno. Things heated up again a month later when a Saratoga woman was killed as she walked her dog along the highway.
Monte Sereno resident JoAnne Peth was horrified by the accidents and co-founded the safety committee when she challenged Monte Sereno, Los Gatos and Saratoga municipal leaders to find money to pay for improvements to the scenic route.
The result is the Highway 9 Pedestrian/Bicycle Improvement Project. The first three phases are complete and the fourth phase was set to begin this week, weather permitting.
“Highway 9 is busier now than when we started in 2004,” Peth said. “They’ve lowered the speed limit, and added sidewalks and bike lanes, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
Phase four of the Highway 9 project involves pedestrian improvements from Fruitvale Avenue to El Camino Grande in Saratoga, and from Daves Avenue to Greenwood Road in Monte Sereno.
Plans call for installing a lighted crosswalk at Greenwood Road.
Work crews will be on the highway weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. installing curbs, asphalt walkways and short retaining walls, and making driveway modifications. Work that requires lane closures will be completed by 3 p.m. to avoid afternoon traffic snarls.
Phase four is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Peth, meantime, regularly walks Highway 9 from North Santa Cruz Avenue to Daves Avenue and says “no parking signs” are needed at the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno border.
“We’ve been working on that for two years,” she said. “I believe the signs are made. But they’re not installed, so we get people parking on the pedestrian pathway.”
In a related development, the recently released “Walking for a Healthier Santa Clara County” provides a picture of the county’s pedestrian environment.
“Walking is the easiest, most affordable way to be physically active and its benefits are well-documented,” Santa Clara County public health director Sara Cody said in a news release. “Walking can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce risks of chronic disease and support healthy aging.”
For optimal health benefits, the Centers for Disease Control recommends adults participate in some form of moderate aerobic activity–like walking–for 150 minutes per week. Children 6-17 years old should be active 60 minutes a day.
The county report addresses a wide range of issues, including pedestrian-related collisions from 2009 to 2013. Los Gatos had 42 such collisions during the five-year period, Saratoga had 17. Monte Sereno was not listed.
The county reports pedestrian/vehicle accidents kill one person each annually in Los Gatos and Saratoga on average, while the Monte Sereno figure is listed as zero.
The county data also shows nearly half of pedestrian-related collisions occur when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk.
The report will be used to help the county and local communities plan for safer streets. Recommendations include improving pedestrian visibility by providing more street lights and signs, and it suggests giving pedestrians a “head start” to cross at traffic lights before vehicles are given the green light.
The complete report is online at http://bit.ly/2mjPUK4.