Editor's note: An earlier version of this story, incorrectly stated that the grant application noted in the story originated with the Midcoast Community Council. The MCC does not seek grants on its own; it is an advisory board reporting to the Board of Supervisors.

With accidents racking up at dawn and twilight along Highway 1, members of the Moss Beach community have been pushing for greater safety measures.

At the public’s behest, San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley composed a draft of a letter addressed to Caltrans, requesting that a street lamp be installed in Moss Beach at the Highway 1 and Virginia Avenue intersection. The intersection has been deemed as a dangerous area for pedestrian crossing, according to a study conducted by the Midcoast Community Council.

To cite a few cases, a vehicle struck and severely injured a 12-year-old boy on a bicycle in 2009. A passing vehicle killed a pedestrian in December 2011. A January accident involved a motorcyclist and a pedestrian. The most recent incident sent a high school student to the hospital, suffering from multiple fractures.

In a project to improve pedestrian visibility initiated in 2011, Caltrans installed and improved signs and a flashing beacon in the area.

But, according to the department of transportation’s traffic manual, a street lamp is not warranted at the intersection at this time. Caltrans’ response to Horsley consequently stated that it would not be able to install a streetlight.

Instead, Caltrans contacted San Mateo County’s Department of Public Works to investigate possible actions, which could include something as simple as replacing existing lights.

“People need to realize that if something is burnt out, it’s up to the public to report it,” MCC secretary Lisa Ketcham said.

Not everyone is on board, however. Some residents wish to preserve the rural character of the community and don’t want the light pollution, Ketcham said.

“They want their nights dark, so there’s a trade-off.” Ketcham said.

On Tuesday, the county applied for a $5 million grant that would help cover the cost of adding left-turn lanes, medians and safe crossings, as identified in the Highway 1 Safety and Mobility Study.

(3) comments

Lisa Ketcham

Some corrections to the article: Supervisor Horsley wrote to Caltrans on his own initiative regarding the poor night lighting along Hwy 1 through Moss Beach and the recent pedestrian accidents there at night, dusk or dawn.

The MCC wished to support this effort, did an inventory of Moss Beach Hwy 1 intersections, and reported 4 burned-out lights to County DPW. The public, in the unincorporated area, is encouraged to report burned-out street lights to 650-599-1407, or email streetlights@co.sanmateo.ca.us

Regarding the grant application, the MCC is an elected advisory council to the Board of Supervisors, and does not make grant applications. The grant application was by the County to the County Transportation Authority (TA) to fund further design and permitting for Midcoast Hwy 1 safe crossings, medians, and left turn pockets. The MCC and other community groups have written in support of the application, which is necessary for its success.

Background documents, letters, meeting minutes, and special issues pages are available at MidcoastCommunityCouncil.org

John Gruver
John Gruver

-I am one who wants dark skies, so I think streetlights should be put in at every intersection, but they should be 100% full-cutoff lights (no light going upwards, sideways).
-I am one who believes the responsibility is incumbent upon the pedestrian to cross the highway safely (kind of like boats... the smallest has the right-of-way but if its pilot decides to cross in front of a moving supertanker s/he'd better have the clearance).


The question is, if there is a light or a crosswalk, who would use it? ould people really walk several blocks to get to it, or would they do as they do alllong Hwy. 1 and just cross wherever they are? Nobody enforces cross walks, anSurfer's Beach and Sam's Chowder House are perfect examples. Driving by Sam's on any busy afternoon or evening is an exercise in frustration, as person after persn steps out to stop traffic despite the (lack of a) time interval since the last person did that. That and the fact of people walking along the long row of parked cars along the highway in the evening wearing dark clothing create an accident waiting to happen. All the roundabouts and slow speed limits in the world are not going to prevent that. Only enforcement will. And requiring adequate parking on the west side of the highway for commercial establishments. And blocking parking along the roadway, as is done during special events.

Some of the proposals in that highway plan are serious public safety hazards, such as the roundabouts, if those are still on the table. They're a waste of money, but worse, they will block escape in the event of a potential mass casualty incident, as well as blocking incoming emergency resources. Highway 1 is the only through road west of the Coastal Range, and there are no other side roads one can take to bypass it from one community to another. We are subject to tsunami, earthquakes and wild land fires, and one need only to read the news on Colorado's disastrous fire to appreciate the seriousness of a lack of escape routes. People think, "Oh, it won't happen here." Well, yes it will, some day. And when it does, it won't be a pretty picture. Just ask anybody who's been there.

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