Home Antioch Antioch City Council Discusses Traffic Calming Needs, James Donlon Blvd the Priority

Antioch City Council Discusses Traffic Calming Needs, James Donlon Blvd the Priority

by ECT

On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council discussed its traffic calming needs for the city of Antioch and provided some direction to staff.

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe placed the item on the agenda following  a Sept. 16 vehicle crash on Sycamore Drive caused major injuries to three 12-year-olds walking home from school–one of the 12-year-olds will soon be taken off life support.

Per his statement:

“As your mayor, we now have to make very challenging decisions for the betterment of our community, we know we have a traffic calming program for residents that was established for residents that was established when I was a councilman, and I am sorry to the residents of Antioch that this program hasn’t moved as fast as we all want it to move. But we are starting see speed humps and speed traffic calming devices in some parts of our city. I am requesting that at next Tuesday’s meeting, I am asking councilmembers to bring forward of names of streets like Sycamore Drive, 10th Street, James Donlon, Davison Road, Hillcrest Ave and many more so we can begin looking at traffic calming devices on those streets because they desperately need them. We don’t have time to wait for a program that studies, and studies and studies. We just need to get the job done for the people of Antioch.”

Thorpe was not part of this conversation after he left the city council meeting early stating he had to catch a flight.

The community also learned that with all the needs requested by the council and community for traffic calming measures, John Samuelson, Public Works/City Engineer Director, stated it was just himself and a traffic engineer (consultant) who is working on the requests.

“It’s not something we can devote all our time to unless you want to assist me in hiring more to help with this effort. It’s really just one person trying to do all this work in addition to trying to do everything else on their plate,” stated Director Samuelson.

The focus of staff is currently on James Donlon Blvd and 10th Street.  Staff will come back with a recommendation on James Donlon Blvd within the next couple of months.

Note – Public works/City Engineer is in similar place as Economic Development Director Kwame Reed who doesn’t have staffing.

During council discussion

Minus the mayor, Antioch City Council talks traffic calming measures after mayor places item on agenda.

Councilwoman Monica Wilson said she liked the idea of road marking signs and noted the speeding on Mokelumne Drive and Prewett Ranch Drive. She also noted James Donlon, Silverado and Gentrytown as issues.

“I don’t know what is going on with the list that people said they have made requests, are we still going through that list or is that being paused,” asked Wilson.

John Samuelson, Public Works/City Engineer Director, stated the neighborhood traffic calming program is still active and currently designing its second project and have an active lists of streets that have been approved, currently being evaluated and have yet to be evaluated.

“There is an active list and if anyone would like to request traffic calming on the street we do have a process and policy to consider all those requests,” said Samuelson.

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock asked about James Donlon and adding traffic lights. She also asked about several streets brought up tonight in public comments—asked about more decoy police vehicles.

Ogorchock also advocated for crossing guards and traffic calming around Antioch Unified School District schools noting this had been brought up in committee last year.

“Unfortunately to date, that has not been on the agenda as of yet and that was asked back in June of 2021,” said Ogorchock. “So that is another opportunity for us to be working with the school district and paying 50% on some of those crossing guards.”

Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker named several streets such as W 9th Street, Cavallo, W 10th Street, Sycamore in addition to the several streets named during public comments.

Torres-Walker asked Director Samuelson if any of the streets were even on his list that have come before him for traffic calming measures.

“We are evaluating James Donlon Blvd and we are evaluating 10th Street, those are our highest priority streets that we are evaluating outside of the traffic calming petition process,” stated Samuelson. “The other streets that you have named I would have to check on the list, I do not recall if they are on there.”

Torres-Walker restated several streets and asked the city to look into seeing if they are on the list. She also asked his thoughts on raised sidewalks, rumbling strips, road markings, and signs.

“I know we have a process as a city where residents can make these types of requests but what authority do we have as a governing body to make this happen without having to make residents have to go through the process that they could wait months or even years to get traffic calming measures in their community,” asked Torres-Walker.

Samuelson replied, speed bumps “absolutely” as well as raised crosswalks are things they are actively installing. He noted the raised crosswalks are near trails where they reach the street.  He called rumble strips were effective measure when trying to get peoples attention of a potential hazard ahead but residents do complain because it causes noise.

He called signage and striping are good tools which is being looked at on James Donlon and 10th Street as natural ways to get people to slow down.

“We are trying to get grant funding to installed a signalized crossing on that street(James Donlon) as well as other crossings on Lone Tree and Hillcrest,” explained Samuelson. “There are ways we are trying to slow down traffic, but also look at ways we can improve ways of improving crossings for pedestrians and bicyclist.”

Samuelson stated the city does look at streets without having to go through the application process but cautioned the council before they try and install speed humps or crosswalks on a residential street that without a petition process because there are streets where residents do not want them and you do not want to install them without their approval because then you end up removing them after receiving complaints.

“There is a reason we have the process that we do and we want to make sure the community is in an agreement before we go installing and impact them on a daily basis,” explained Samuelson. “There are methods and are traffic calming devices that we can install that doesn’t need to go through this process.”

Torres-Walker asked Samuelson he if considered Sycamore corridor between L Street and Auto Center a residential.

“I would consider it a residential street,” said Samuelson and that they could look at traffic calming measures but also explained first responders do have roads they need to have access to without traffic calming measures such as speed humps  and cross walks because it slows down there response times to an emergency and impacts people in the back of ambulances. “Those are other things we take into account as we evaluate traffic calming measures.”

Torres-Walker asked about if 10th Street was considered a residential street.

Samuelson replied, “portions of W 10th Street are absolutely residential and other portions are more commercial in nature.

Torres-Walker asked about Cavallo and if that was considered a residential street.

Samuelson replied portions were residential and other portions are commercial.

Barbanica says they already have the statistical information where fatal crashes are occurring, where traffic crashes occur, where citations are given, and know what the speeds of vehicles due to speed surveys on these streets.

“My thought is, I am a fan of roundabouts. I get it, they can’t go everywhere, but James Donlon is a mess and I believe on James Donlon we need to take action to slow folks down. Every time you turn around you here we had another fatal accident,” stated Barbanica. “James Donlon in my opinion is a big problem and what I would like to see is city staff is to take the statistical information that we can get from police where the fatal crashes occur, where crashes occur, where citations being issued for speed and what do our radar surveys tell us about people speeding in those areas and then priorities where these go and I would like to see city staff with a report and recommendation sooner rather than later about what we can do with James Donlon being a priority.”

Barbanica said he believe the city needed to take action and this was a big job with quite a few issues with speed and certain areas of the city where they have issues with fatal crashes.

“It’s our duty to do whatever we can to protect that,” said Barbanica while noting there were several areas of James Donlon where they could place a roundabout but understood engineers could see it differently.

Samuelson encouraged the council to look at the Road and Safety Plan which was recently adopted which does what Barbanica just described—which looks at accident data, feedback from residents. It also prioritizes streets and comes up with recommendations for improvement.

“We have done that to a point, I am trying to work with my staff to take it to the next level and continue to evaluate for what else in addition can we do from what’s in that local road safety plan. James Donlon and 10th Steet are my highest priority streets to do at this time to do that effort,” said Samuelson. “It does take time.”

Samuelson estimates they could see something back in front of the council in a couple of months but noted that while he supports roundabouts, the challenge is the space needed for them. He did call it a “real” challenge for roundabouts on James Donlon.

Barbanica asked if roundabouts were not installed what else could be done.

Samuelson said they were looking at a variety of things from signage, striping, speed feedback signs and they were going to look at everything from the cause of the accidents and what specifically caused the accident from speed to location. He said all options were being considered.

Samuelson stated something on James Donlon would come back in a couple months but cautioned it wouldn’t be more because its just Samuelson and one traffic engineer (consultant) in the department—in addition to all the projects they are working on.

“It’s not something we can devote all our time to unless you want to assist me in hiring more to help with this effort. It’s really just one person trying to do all this work in addition to trying to do everything else on their plate,” stated Samuelson.

The council requested something come back as soon as possible.

End of discussion

Previous stated information

Per a public records request in June, the Antioch Police Department provided crime data, within that data included traffic:

Injury Crashes

  • 2013 – 349
  • 2014 – 351
  • 2015 – 418
  • 2016 – 385
  • 2017 – 330
  • 2018 – 362
  • 2019 – 316
  • 2020 – 266
  • 2021 – 288

Fatal Collisions

  • 2013 – 5
  • 2014 – 3
  • 2015 – 8
  • 2016 – 7
  • 2017 – 2
  • 2018 – 8
  • 2019 – 6
  • 2020 – 5
  • 2021 – 3

DUI Arrests

  • 2013 – 143
  • 2014 – 149
  • 2015 – 150
  • 2016 – 182
  • 2017 – 170
  • 2018 – 210
  • 2019 – 168
  • 2020 – 133
  • 2021 – 110

Antioch City Council Approve Speed Tables

2022 Known Vehicle Crashes in Antioch that resulted in stories:

Previous Crashes on James Donlon Blvd:

2015: Residents Install Own Speed Bumps

Back in June of 2015, Antioch residents installed their own speed bumps on W 11th Street after being fed up with the City of Antioch for lack of response for speeding and sideshows at W 11th Street and Medanos Streets after the death of Tim Hudson. Residents installed them just 3-weeks after his death.

The city removed them due to liability.

At the time, then Director of Public Works/City Engineer Ron Bernal  highlighted the process needed to get speed bumps placed on city streets, saying the city of Antioch currently has just two speed bumps which were paid by a developer on Wilson Street.

He noted that since 1998, the City has not had just one formal application to place speed bumps on city streets after Resolution No. 98/122 was passed.  The application was for Carpenteria Drive, however, it never was finalized after residents did not want to pay out of pocket for the speed bumps.

“The process is get 75% of the affected property owners to sign a petition they want speed tables installed. The effected property owners does not mean the street they are on, any of the streets that are effected by the speed table which could be side streets as well. You have a larger area where most people think they need to get the signatures. Then we would go out and conduct a radar survey and determine if the average driver if 7-mph over the posted speed limit,” explained Bernal.

Bernal highlighted that if its posted 25-mph, the 85 percentile would have to be 32-mph or higher for the City to say there is a speeding problem.

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Paulette Sep 30, 2022 - 12:14 pm

It’s about time they make James Donlon a priority…

Frank Sep 30, 2022 - 7:06 pm

Instead of spending all this money let’s get DUI drivers like Lamar off the road. Also let’s get kids like Walker’s kids off the road. Spend the money on law enforcement and actually enforce the laws. When Walker attends slideshows she should take pictures and turn the thugs in.

P. Scott Sep 30, 2022 - 7:38 pm

Traffic calming devices, hard devices are generally effective and self enforcing. Discussion surrounding signs, street lettering and feedback signs are only effective if motorists are responsible and care enough to heed warnings. Take the sign on Hillcrest for example. It displays an approaching motorist speed. Anyone who travels Hillcrest knows the messaging is worthless. Motorists routinely exceed the 45mph posted speed limit on all of Hillcrest and Deervalley for that matter. In all of the discussion not once was enforcement mentioned. Our police department is severely understaffed, especially the traffic division. Even when traffic officers are on duty the may get called off for other reasons. The best deterrent for traffic violations is consequences. On any given day, on any street motorists exceed speed limits, run stop signs and signals and more and more often, day and night can be seen and heard racing and spinning donuts. In most cases they are the vehicles with modified exhaust systems. So what is the answer? A multi pronged approach. Yes, signage and hard calming devices will certainly help. But, enforcement is tantamount to, sorry, taking back our streets. So, I would encourage Public Works/Engineering to expedite where possible installation of devices that will have an impact on those roadways known to be problematic. Secondly, review the City’s onerous policy for approving speed bumps/humps. Lastly, the City’s Human Resources needs to expedite hiring officers to beef up the Traffic Control Division of our PD, they are key to helping solve some of our traffic woes.

Fred Glaser Oct 1, 2022 - 6:16 pm

Why hasn’t anyone suggested cameras that ticket speeders? Cameras are used successfully in other places. I also think roundabouts would help slow traffic. There are a couple of spots on James Donlon where they would be perfect. The main problem is those that are going way too fast on a road that isn’t made for speed (James Donlon). In reading this story the main emphasis was the number of deaths that have happened. Let’s not forget the number of accidents and injuries as well. Another answer for making our city streets safer is police presence. However, we all know that isn’t a viable answer because we don’t have enough police available. I always thought days that police units got together and patrolled hot spots in the area were a good idea—however, I don’t know how successful they were. They were certainly noticed by the community.

Boomba63 Oct 3, 2022 - 8:11 am

This item should have been taken up years ago. Not as a political opportunity, smoke screen after a terrible accident. The current council, with the exception of one of the members forgets that the keys to Traffic Enforcement are:
Engineering, Education and Enforcement.

Having only one of the three (Engineering) in place isn’t going to work when you have a PD with a decimated traffic unit (basically non-existent) through NO fault of the officers working at APD.

So in essence, not a thing was accomplished the other night at the council meeting besides talk, talk, talk and more talk.

I’m surprised council didn’t want to hire a consultant to the tune of $100,000 to look into “traffic calming”, and bring the item back a year from now with the consultant’s “horse and pony show” presentation with pretty pictures, charts and graphs.

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