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Traffic mess on Shoreline - why no police?

Original post made by Jeral Poskey, Old Mountain View, on Oct 14, 2009

Today there was a single traffic light out on Shoreline, and it triggered a traffic nightmare. This could have been easily rectified if police had directed traffic. Why don't they?

For me, it meant a commute of more than one hour from Downtown Mountain View to Google. Yes, seriously. The shuttle was stuck in traffic and ran 20 minutes late. Then it was stuck in the Shoreline traffic. It would have taken longer, but most of us abandoned the shuttle at Middlefield and walked the rest of the way.

While crossing 101, I realized that the Shoreline exit was so backed up that it was impacting traffic on 101 as well. This means this one traffic light had an impact on people up and down the Peninsula. Besides many hours of wasted time, there is an environmental impact of this many cars being stuck.

The backup could have been mitigated if police had gone to the intersection and provided some traffic control. I know it can be dangerous, but they have done it before (at night, even) when the lights went out at Shoreline/Middlefield.

Can anyone from the city comment on this?

Comments (25)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Agree
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 14, 2009 at 10:30 am

I agree...the police should do some traffic control at major intersections when problems like this come up. That is what is expected of police officers in any community. Isn't that why they have those officers in light blue?

I was told once that it is a policy to not do traffic control because of liabilty????? Something to the effect that if a vehicle is involved in a wreck at an interection where an officer is directing traffic then city is at a greater risk???? I am confused...is an officer that is directing traffic doing the same job as a traffic light?


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Posted by Note That
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2009 at 12:13 pm

85 was backed up all the way to the 280 on-ramp. Stuff like this becomes a regional issue. If MV doesn't take care other cities are going to start getting annoyed at it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Koa
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 14, 2009 at 12:58 pm

The traffic was atrocious this morning. I didn't even make it to that light to see that it was the source of the delay. Maddening


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Yup, I walked as well. Traffic was *INSANE* this morning. I wonder what took them so long to repair the light. And yes, the police should have been right on the scene, and were not.

It took me 90 minutes to travel from my home in Old Mountain View to Google. I spent 45 minutes waiting for the shuttle, and then 15 minutes on it, and then another 30 minutes walking to work.


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Posted by Mr. X
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Makes you wonder what the police were doing instead of perfoming a basic duty at such a vital intersection. Perhaps the police department should produce a list of every officer on duty and describe what they were doing at the time of the inoperable traffic signal, then the residents can see what their priorites are.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Liz
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Shoreline and Pear is a major problem even when the light is working. I work in this area and, thankfully, came in at 8 am this morning, so it wasn't as bad for me as I'm sure it was later. It still took me a couple light cycles to get through the Shoreline/101N intersection.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Laura Macias
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Hi, I have contacted the City Manager's office to ask him to investigate and have someone post a city response.
Sorry to hear about your truly awful commute, Jeral and everyone else inconvenienced by the light malfunction. The weather may have been a problem but we'll see what can be done.
Laura Macias, Mtn View City Council


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jane
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 14, 2009 at 4:20 pm

I think this brings up the larger issue of what the area on the north side of 101 will be like in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake where more than one signal does not work or perhaps an overpass is no longer passable.

With the 20th anniversary of Loma Prieta earthquake approaching, perhaps it is time for us all to revisit our emergency supplies and even what supplies we might keep in our cars in case we might be "trapped" on the Google side of 101. If one traffic light outage can cause such a dramatic delay, we need to plan ahead for our routes and safety when/if more lights are out or route are not drivable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Celeste Tapscott
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm

This was a "Twilight Zone" moment. I thought at first that some horrific accident had occurred with jack-knifed trailers or something...thank goodness it wasn't but the snails pace at which we moved was astounding!!!! It took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to work on Shoreline and I live in Mountain View on California.. Did I mention the rudeness of some drivers blocking the lanes so when the light did turn green we still couldn't move???? Amazing - I


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Oct 14, 2009 at 5:08 pm

If you think the cops are going to direct traffic at one intersection, do you expect them to direct traffic at all the intersections in town? The worst rains of October in decades, commute hours in wet weather, and you expect timely travel??? Wow! Take the day off, ride your bike, leave early, or move to Cool California where there's one traffic light. Our Bay Area world has traffic and I don't want my taxpayer dollars paying cops to waste their time. And if you were here for Loma Prieta, you know that 101 will be bumper to bumper no matter how many cops direct traffic. Maybe a Google engineer can brainstorm a solution so politicians don't have to worry about making everyone happy and apologizing for everyday life!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 14, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Council Woman Macias is a jewel.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 14, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Here's why:

Web Link

All that money thrown at them and they can't even direct traffic.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cash
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 15, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Do Google folks not know how to use the phone and call the police? Text messages to 911 do not work :-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 15, 2009 at 9:33 pm

We're still waiting here for a response from city officials. OSH is having a sale on pitchforks and torches.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nadine
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 16, 2009 at 9:28 am

Please feel free to contact the Police Department PIO (Liz Wylie) for information regarding this situation or other Police related matters where you have a question. Phone number: 650 903-6350 and email: elizabeth.wylie@mountainview.gov.

Nadine Levin
City Manager's Office


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Liz
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm

While I sympathize with your traffic problems. I wonder what the police are doing to do to protect us from criminals who are attacking people at the movie theaters on Shoreline?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sly
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I dont think the walked KILLED any of you GOOGLEITS!! and if your so worried about the enviroment then you and eveyone else who walked should be proud!! Also as far as mvpd directing traffic I'd rather them protec the city I live in, instead of showing people how to drive, since you should allready know how to do that since you PAST your DMV!!!!!!! P.S. keep on truckin.....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Don Frances
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Oct 16, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.

Old Ben,

By the time of your posting, this comment thread already had a response from a city council member. But more to the point, I don't like implied incitements to violence, even as a joke, as I've seen where they can go. Your "pitchforks" crack is not welcome.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

If you got your drivers license legally and know the rules of the road, this isn't a big deal. Cars on the right go first. Cars turning go with the traffic going the same direction. Don't blame the police department for the lack of knowledge drivers have. Also, before you go get off the phone which doesn't seem to get through to people. Learn the rules of the road.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by msalice
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 16, 2009 at 3:20 pm

msalice is a registered user.

Well now that this has happened I guess Google should start pushing for the PRT more often! Not to bring an old topic up:

Web Link

Either that or write to VTA in their Comment Area to put a better Bus route for those that need it! It will make the commute a lot more easier!

Web Link

I didn't see much of an impact around 6pm on Tuesday Night! On Pear and Shoreline! Though I did see lights flashing from a police vehicle onto the 85/100 onramp.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gina
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Honestly, do you really think the police make directing traffic their first priority? They will get to it when they can! They are out protecting the city, chasing criminals and addressing accidents on one of the worst rainy days of the season yet. If you want more help, than do something about it and quit voting for budget cuts. The police are running on fumes as it is. Use the common sense and courtesy of the road and you will get to your destination safely. Besides on days when the weather is predicted to be so poor plan your travels accordingly. 911 does work, but there are only three dispatchers for thousands of people and hundreds of calls per hour. They have to prioritize too!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 18, 2009 at 11:01 am

Mr. Frances, do you think this qualifies as a "response":

<<Posted by Laura Macias, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Oct 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Hi, I have contacted the City Manager's office to ask him to investigate and have someone post a city response.

Sorry to hear about your truly awful commute, Jeral and everyone else inconvenienced by the light malfunction. The weather may have been a problem but we'll see what can be done.

Laura Macias, Mtn View City Council>>

That's not a response, that's a "we'll get back to you" deferral of a response. Our city government is no better than our state government, which in turn is no better than our federal government. These overcompensated incompetents (at ALL levels of our government) need to be reminded that they work for US.

"Pitchforks & torches" is a metaphor, Mr. Frances. Surely you know what a metaphor is. If our public servants ("the SKY is the limit!") don't stop hammering away at what remains of the middle class, next year's metaphor may be the guillotine.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Don Frances
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Oct 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.

Ben,

Yes, I know what a metaphor is. The question I then have to ask is, "pitchforks and torches" is a metaphor for what? Voting your representatives out of office? Rioting in the streets? Only you really know.

My job is to make sure this forum adheres to basic rules of civility. If you come onto Town Square and encourage people to vote against their current council members, I will smile on that. "Pitchforks"? Not so much.

From your comments, it's clear you think your elected officials are all incompetent/on the make. (How do they manage to be both at once?) But I have to say, Ms. Macias' response -- a personal promise that she's having the city manager, who works for her, look into it and get back to you -- sure seems like a response to me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeral P
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 20, 2009 at 2:39 pm

I've left a message for Liz, and I'll update this again after we talk. I see a wave of righteous indignation spreading among respondents, so I'll recap the facts in case Liz wants to look at this thread before we talk.

1. This did not happen on the day of bad weather. It was the day after. Yes, everyone would have been more forgiving if it were during bad weather or following an earthquake.
2. Yes, the police have other things to do. But we know they do sometimes direct traffic, and the question remains why they do in some cases but not in this one.
3. Drivers not knowing the rules wasn't a problem here (Thom). Everyone was properly following the rules and making it a 4-way stop. That meant that a signal-controlled intersection that might handle 2,0000 cars an hour become a 4-way stop handling only a few hundred per hour. Those extra thousand cars are what backed up onto 85 and 101.
4. I don't think anyone is complaining that they were late for their morning coffee. We're talking delays greater than one hour affecting people who work at many companies in North Bayshore, as well as delaying thousands of people on 101 and 85. As 'Note That' said, this became a regional issue.

Hopefully I'll have more information from Liz to post in a day or two.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeral P
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 22, 2009 at 10:10 am

Had a good talk with Liz. Actually, the MVPD will never do traffic control at an out-of-order light unless there is some special risk, such as blocked lanes, an active emergency response, or a light near a railroad crossing that presents a danger of traffic getting stuck. This is city policy, which is consistent with most cities' policies. The problem causing bad traffic in the city or even in the region doesn't qualify it for traffic control.

In our conversation, I remembered back to the time when I had seen MVPD directing traffic at an out-of-order light at Middlefield and Shoreline. Even though there was no accident that I could see, I think a friend later told me that there had been an accident there, so perhaps there was still some danger or some cleanup going on in relation to the accident that wasn't visible to us motorists.

Thanks, Liz, for the clarification.


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