If any of you have driven through the intersection of Castro Street and Central Expressway lately, you may have noticed some significant changes to the traffic lights and signal order.
These "improvements" have eased the flow of traffic from Moffett Boulevard into downtown but have inadvertently created gridlock leaving downtown. Worse yet, the Mountain View police have exploited a major change in the signal order to cite motorists for running a red light that had been a flashing red light for the last several decades. What we have here is poor traffic planning and opportunistic revenue generation, both of which should be corrected posthaste.
In the current configuration, traffic from Castro to Moffett piles up in the far right lanes. Those turning right onto Central Expressway are unable to do so because of the new solid red at the tracks and those waiting to go straight. When the light does turn green, all of the right-lane traffic is held up by pedestrians in the crosswalk. This jam also affects VTA, which often is unable to approach the bus stop at the tracks. All the while, the two left dedicated turn lanes sit nearly empty, as not many people turn left onto the expressway.
My suggestion: Dedicate the far left lane to left turns onto Central. Dedicate the center two lanes for straight traffic only. Dedicate the far right lane for right turns onto Central and for the bus stop. Most importantly, return to the flashing red signal at the tracks. This will allow right turning cars to clear the intersection when safe onto Central and not be hindered by pedestrians. This will allow the orderly stacking of cars going straight in the center lanes and allow up to eight vehicles to safely stage themselves past the tracks as they have done for decades. The end result is more vehicles clearing from downtown when a train comes and more orderly and efficient usage of space by those waiting for a green signal.
Once this trick signal is corrected, it will also reduce the undue financial burden being placed on motorists that frankly don't even realize they are making a mistake.
I hope there are others as frustrated by this intersection as I am. Please pass my idea and your own comments on to our city council members and let's see if we can fix this.
How can we keep housing prices flat?
I think that it is about time to end the speculation and get the facts. Real estate professionals and economists, tell us how many housing units Mountain View would have to add each year to keep housing prices flat, reduce housing prices by 10 percent and reduce housing prices by 20 percent?
Step two will be for all you planners out there to determine where we could fit in the additional housing units in the three scenarios above.
Arts support can help STEM students
I am an engineer, a strong supporter of STEM education and have volunteered in our schools in support of STEM. However, I must respectfully disagree with Steven Nelson's position that funding for performing arts undercuts STEM and students pursuing STEM careers.
Participation in group performances such as band or drama teaches students to work together as a team. Being able to work in a team is an extremely important skill for engineers and scientists. Participation in performing arts develops a student's ability to be comfortable in front of a crowd. This helps students pursuing STEM careers because they will need to effectively present their work to their peers, management and at conferences.
My older son's high school writing teacher recommended a drama class as a good way to develop the ability to take on different roles from one's natural personality. As an engineer I've had to take on diverse roles such as an authoritative subject matter expert, a leader, a neutral dispute mediator and even team cheerleader, so I can see that drama experience would be very beneficial for many careers.
There is also plenty of opportunity for the application of technology in performing arts such as taking and producing videos of performances and working with mixing and sound equipment. With the importance of video as a communication tool for everything from technology tutorials to marketing, it would seem that such experience would also be beneficial for future engineers.
For the above reasons and more, I feel my sons' participation in music and drama programs at Mountain View middle and high schools has been of great benefit to them as they both pursue technical careers. I therefore support funding for performing arts facilities in our schools because it will benefit future engineers as well as those pursuing arts careers.
Council needs to change direction
I couldn't agree more with the Feb. 14 Voice editorial saying that Mountain View needs candidates for City Council who understand the major issues. Three of the most wasteful and biggest spenders are being termed out.
Our new 30-year-old mayor has no clue as he is fairly new to the city and has no past political experience here.
Google continues to make big gifts to the City Council — but not things that benefit the outlying residents or small business owners that are really suffering from the outrageous costs of housing and renting.
The attitude of "more city revenue" and "new sources of city income" must stop with the new City Council.
The gentrification of the city to "Googleville" must stop if we are going to be able to survive as residents.