This spring, the California Department of Transportation selected the Pruneridge Avenue Complete Streets Plan to receive funding through the agency’s Sustainable Communities Grants Program. The grant is in the amount of $351,077 with matching funds of $45,486 from the City, to be used to create a Complete Streets Plan for a 2.2-mile segment of Pruneridge Avenue, stretching from Pomeroy Avenue to Winchester Boulevard.
The plan involves analyzing traffic conditions and how the inclusion of bike lanes along the 2.2-mile segment will affect those conditions. The analysis will include consideration of whether adding pedestrian improvements such as wider sidewalks, curb bulb-outs, landscaping, lighting and ADA improvements are necessary.
According to Public Works staff, the agreement with Caltrans for the City to receive the grant money hasn’t yet been finalized and is expected to be complete by October, at which time the study can move forward and then go to City Council for approval. Following a Request for Proposals period, likely in October, a consultant will be hired to help develop three design alternatives for the project and do outreach for public feedback. The project is in the very earliest stages and there’s no vision yet for what those three design alternatives could look like.
This project follows another Pruneridge streetscape project between Hedding Street and the Apple campus that involved a “road diet” in which vehicle lanes were removed and bike lanes added to create a more pedestrian friendly and bike-able area. Despite the intentions, community members have been critical of the changes saying that they’ve led to more accidents and traffic congestion.
Santa Clara City Council Member and VTA Board Chair Teresa O’Neill commented that, in general, the performance of road diets needs to be studied and that there needs to be clear objectives as to what will be achieved by adding them. Regarding the Caltrans-funded Pruneridge Avenue project, O’Neill said that she wants to see a community engagement process that’s informed by performance data from other road diets as well as information on what specific issues are being faced on Pruneridge.
“I want a result that first and foremost promotes safety for everyone who travels on Pruneridge,” she stated. “We get a lot of widely divergent comments on Pruneridge, probably more so on this corridor than any other topic but housing.”
Some of the concerns that O’Neill has heard from the community include the ability to make turns out of side streets onto Pruneridge, reports that there are low numbers of cyclists using the bike lane in the road diet segment, and increased traffic congestion. Others have said that having two car lanes and no bike lanes led to aggressive driving on Hedding Street. There have also been comments shared that more people would opt to bike if the entire corridor had bike lanes or if the bike route were diverted to side streets.
“We need to do the study of the Stevens Creek Corridor with San Jose, Cupertino and VTA to optimize transportation on that regional corridor,” O’Neill suggested. “That will take cars off of Pruneridge. We need to continue to incorporate emerging technologies to make our highways, like nearby 280, move larger numbers of people in a variety of ways, including perhaps having dedicated lanes for VTA and corporate buses.
“The big employers in the area need to go back to having more flexible workplace rules and allow employees to work from home one to two days a week,” continued O’Neill. “Many employers have eliminated work from home options. Doing these things will take pressure off of streets like Pruneridge. I think we should all consider that if Pruneridge is a less attractive cross-Valley commute alternative, and Stevens Creek and 280 are more attractive, then we will have less traffic on Pruneridge. Collectively, I think we need to hold the large employers more accountable (and that can take different forms) and we need to be sure we are looking to the future.”