If any of you have driven through the intersection of Castro St and Central Expressway lately, you may have noticed some significant changes to the traffic lights and signal order. These “improvements” have improved the flow of traffic from Moffett Blvd. into downtown but have inadvertently created gridlock leaving downtown. Worse yet, the Mountain View Police has 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 the pedestrians in crosswalk. This jam also affects VTA, unable to approach the bus stop at the tracks. All the while, the left to 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 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 so 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.