Chapel Drive resident Natalie Guzzetti has been lobbying for the past year to get safety measures implemented for a crosswalk at Harrison Street and Scott Boulevard in Santa Clara. Scott Boulevard is often a busy thoroughfare and the intersection is adjacent to a bustling shopping center that attracts residents from the surrounding neighborhood. Last July, with support of community members concerned about unsafe conditions for pedestrians due to cars speeding through the intersection, Guzzetti authored a petition to the City signed by over 50 neighbors imploring that a pedestrian light be installed to protect the community.
Following the petition submittal, Guzzetti was told by a City engineer that a traffic study would be done to determine the conditions but that the process would take several months, and City Council would need to approve any upgrades. In March of this year, Guzzetti said that she was hit and nearly injured by a speeding car driving northbound on Scott. She recalled carrying groceries home on a Wednesday around 3:30 p.m. when a driver of a car who didn’t see her in the intersection had to slam on the breaks to avoid a worse collision.
“I was almost all the way across carrying my shopping bags when a car going way too fast didn’t see me and had to slam on the breaks while going about 40 mph,” said Guzzetti. “I jumped back using my hand to push away from the car.”
Shaken by the incident, Guzzetti said she went home and immediately called a Department of Public Works engineer to inquire about the status of the study and requested that an interim solution be implemented.
“I don’t ever see police officers there,” she had said. “I won’t use the crosswalk anymore until something happens.”
The incident followed similar ones last year when an elderly resident was reportedly hit by a car in the crosswalk as well as a neighbor of Guzzetti’s who was nearly hit. On March 11, Guzzetti resubmitted the petition requesting that the police monitor the intersection, however the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic appeared to have temporarily diverted public resources from the issue.
However, on April 28 City Council approved a project for a high intensity activated crosswalk beacon, known as a HAWK beacon, on Scott Boulevard at Harrison Street based on the Public Works study that was conducted. The next steps for the project are developing a scope of work, consultant selection, project bidding, Council approval of the work contract and finally construction. Completion is anticipated for summer 2022.
“I’m really happy about it,” commented Guzzetti. “With something this urgent I’m surprised that it’s a two-year process, but everything moves more slowly with government. But I’m really happy that they did the data collection and approved it.”
Guzzetti was subsequently informed by a City staff member that the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order has slowed municipal operations and services, and that the completion of the HAWK beacon project could be delayed.
According to Public Works Director Craig Mobeck, City staff will be fitting the project in with the current workload as opposed to waiting for the future Capital Budget to be approved. Like many Bay Area cities and beyond, Santa Clara faces an impending fiscal shortfall due to COVID-19.