Now that traffic signals on Butterfield Boulevard are “optimized” to improve vehicle circulation during peak hours, city staff are on a renewed push to convince motorists to take the route that bypasses downtown Morgan Hill when traveling through the area.
Earlier this month, the city installed new signal controllers at intersections on Butterfield Boulevard to improve traffic efficiency, says a press release from the city of Morgan Hill. Signals are now optimized for smoother circulation Monday through Friday between the hours of 6-8am and 4-6pm.
Drivers—particularly those who regularly use Monterey Road to travel north and south through Morgan Hill—are advised to “go green” during those hours to get from one end of town to the other more quickly, says the press release.
“The City hopes continued improvements to the Butterfield Corridor will help us move traffic out of downtown to an arterial designed to act as a bypass and improve traffic flow through the City,” said Public Services Director Chris Ghione. “By encouraging traffic flow off Monterey and onto Butterfield, the City is making our downtown safer while simultaneously improving travel times for our residents.”
The city has installed permanent and temporary signage throughout the Butterfield corridor—and along Monterey Road north and south of the downtown—to communicate the signal optimization project. The city is also launching an electronic, print and social media campaign to educate residents and commuters about the faster signalization during peak commute hours.
The signal optimization is part of the city’s long-term effort to reduce traffic congestion in and around downtown Morgan Hill. Such congestion has become one of the most common complaints among residents, and one of the biggest impediments to the city’s long-held vision of a lane reduction on Monterey Road through downtown.
In January, the city council voted 3-2 to implement a traffic mitigation plan, of which the optimization of Butterfield Boulevard signals is a part. The plan includes the collection of traffic data for at least a couple months while the signals are optimized, and presenting that data to the council this summer to determine the next steps.
The next step could be the implementation of a Monterey Road lane reduction project, which would limit the downtown thoroughfare to a single vehicle lane in each direction. The other lane and street parking would be utilized for more pedestrian, cycling and other outdoor uses.
The optimization of Butterfield Boulevard by installing 13 new traffic signals cost about $106,000, city staff estimated in January.
The goal of the signal optimization effort is “to balance traffic flow on Butterfield Boulevard with major traffic flow for our residents traveling east and west across the city,” says the press release. “We acknowledge that improvements made within the City can at times benefit some, while being bothersome for others. Although the signals have been optimized, there may be slightly longer waits at non-arterial street intersections. Adjustments to the signal programming will continue over the next few months as the City continues to evaluate and modify the traffic optimization strategy, looking for opportunities for continuous improvement.”