Changes to Highway 1 are becoming a headache for the Midcoast community as Caltrans and San Mateo County plan to address area traffic issues in a set of disparate but loosely connected efforts.

Happening simultaneously this fall are discussions about the existing Virginia Avenue crosswalk, a proposed crosswalk at Miramar Road and road alterations to create a reroute after the Coastal Trail bridge closed at Medio Street last month. And that doesn’t include ongoing discussion about the Connect the Coastside plan nor the county’s Safe Routes to School visioning process.

The Midcoast Community Council and local residents are treading water to keep up with each new update as new concerns about transparency and communication between Caltrans and the county emerge.

To help reopen lines of communication, the MCC passed a motion last week asking Caltrans to hold a public meeting on its proposed improvements to the Highway 1 corridor. Those plans were released last month. The improvements include $2 million of sensors, signs, pullouts and guardrail replacements.

Overall, council members seemed amenable to the changes, but not everyone agreed on how best to communicate concerns.

“It sounds like they're responding to what we asked for,” said Councilmember Claire Toutant, who voted against requesting the public meeting because she thought the MCC should approach its public partners as strategic negotiators rather than angry residents. “The devil is in the details, but I’m pleased with it so far.”

Councilmember Dan Haggerty voted for the public meeting because he wants the community to be more informed about the details of the plan, and said he is concerned with tall, stand-out electronic signs along the highway and the material of the guardrails.

“If something is functional, will be good for the community, with low impact, low visual impact, that would be good,” Haggerty said.

During the MCC’s discussion, residents, including Chris Johnson, said they worry that communication between the county and Caltrans has broken down, and that Caltrans is avoiding publicly addressing the specific issue of crosswalks after the one installed seemingly overnight at Virginia Avenue caught the Moss Beach community by surprise.

A separate Sept. 9 meeting between Supervisor Don Horsley and Caltrans leaders was originally set to address that topic specifically, but has since been changed to address improvements more broadly. The meeting will not be open to the public, creating concern among residents.

“Whatever is going on here needs to be more transparent,” said resident Dolores Silva. “These crosswalks don’t relate to all the work that’s been done for years and years. … People are irate, and I think we have reason to be.”

Residents who wish to participate in upcoming public meetings or want to review proposals can visit the MCC website at midcoastcommunitycouncil.org.

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