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January 18, 2020

Pedestrian collision turns focus on downtown safety

After a vehicle collided with two pedestrians in the busy downtown corridor of Morgan Hill this past weekend, city officials assure residents that more safety measures are coming to the neighborhood.

On Saturday night, March 12 about 11:30 p.m., two women were struck by a gray Ford while walking in the crosswalk at Third Street and Monterey Road, in front of Ladera Grill restaurant, according to Morgan Hill police Sgt. Carson Thomas. The vehicle was traveling southbound on Monterey Road when it struck the pedestrians.

One of the pedestrians was transported to an area hospital, and was released later that evening, Thomas said.

The driver of the Ford was cited for excess speed under the conditions, which were wet and rainy, Thomas added.

“The estimated speed (of the vehicle) was about 30 mph. The driver told the officer he had a difficult time seeing because his window was fogged up and (because of) the weather,” Thomas added. The speed limit on Monterey Road downtown is 25 mph.

Thomas added that one of the pedestrians was arrested on suspicion of public drunkenness, and the “male half” was arrested on suspicion of obstructing an officer after he tried to stop the officer from contacting the injured woman.
The accident happened as the City of Morgan Hill is in the process of rebuilding its downtown and trying to make it safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. In September 2015, the city council approved a long list of “traffic calming” measures for downtown streets, sidewalks and crosswalks; but they decided against the option of installing flashing lights at downtown crosswalks, similar to those seen on West Edmundson Avenue in front of the Centennial Recreation Center.

Some of these measures have been completed, such as the temporary installation of speed bumps on Monterey Road on each side of Fourth Street and movable reflective signs denoting pedestrian crosswalks at key intersections, City Manager Steve Rymer said. However, the council elected not to reinstall the larger speed bumps that were removed from the area of the Third Street crosswalk last summer.

Other upcoming safety improvements include expanding sidewalks on Monterey Road, and narrowing the vehicle travel lanes from 10.5 feet to 10 feet. The city will also install paint markings for bike lanes on the pavement, and restripe the roadway when other downtown street improvements are complete.

“The idea is to enclose the downtown and calm traffic by bringing everything together,” Rymer said.

The city also plans to install a traffic light at Fourth Street and Monterey Road, at which time the speed bumps will be removed. That light is also intended to slow down vehicles on Monterey Road, and keep traffic orderly as it enters and exits the new Fourth Street Garage.

All of these measures together are expected to cost about $600,000.

In the summer of 2015, the city also enacted a “road diet” experiment, in which Monterey Road through the downtown was reduced to a single travel lane in each direction. The intent of the experiment was to slow the traffic and improve safety, but the concept failed to gain momentum as a permanent measure in the face of heated opposition from residents and business owners.

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