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I received an invitation from Napa City Public Works to attend a public meeting at NVLA on June 21 regarding repaving, installation of curb, gutters and sidewalks within the Westwood subdivision and on Laurel Street. I have a home on Laurel Street.

While the repaving and the additions of curb, gutters and sidewalks is well appreciated, the city continues to turn a deaf ear to the major concern of residents to do any meaningful road construction to control speeding within the Westwood subdivision and along Laurel Street. This is a continuing point of frustration for us residents in the Westwood area and, indeed, a frustration to the point of anger in many neighborhoods throughout the city.

For residents, it is not about the number of accidents that have occurred, or number of speeding citations written; it is about what will occur if the safety of residents, pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists continue to be ignored by Napa City Public Works. Our worst fears are severe injury or death to our children, our senior citizens and local residents. This is our home, we live on these streets, we need protection from speeders.

Napa City Public Works has to step up to the plate and become a meaningful participant in providing safe streets for residents. One point is clear -- Measure T tax dollars are going to provide huge sums of money to be spent on road improvements. How about titling the expenditures “Safe Roads for Residents” and use the guiding principle of “how can we make this road safer for residents living along this road?”

Laurel Street has become a pass-through transit for vehicular traffic attempting to avoid congestion at the First Street and Freeway Drive intersections. This has created unsafe conditions for residents, pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists. Vehicles often exceed speeds of 40 mph. The city has an opportunity, now, using traffic calming measures to create a driving environment that promotes adherence to safe driving speeds. This effort can be concurrent with the city’s program to repave Laurel Street and install curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

I propose the city install crosswalk bulbs with traffic tables at Avon and Laurel. This is a heavily used pedestrian crosswalk between NVLA, markets and apartments. Views are obstructed of the crosswalk due to parking on both sides of the street right up to the crosswalk. I further believe the speed limit should be reduced to 15 mph in the immediate area of that crosswalk.

I propose the city install crosswalk bulbs with traffic tables and three way stop signs at these locations:

1. Kilburn and Laurel. This would enable the safe street crossing for the senior residents of Laurel Manor, which is located immediately across from Kilburn.

2. Bryant and Laurel. This is the only mid-Laurel street egress/ingress intersection for Westwood subdivision, used by Westwood pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists to access Laurel and Westwood Hills parks. Since this in the longest straightaway on this west portion of Laurel, my observation is that vehicles frequently reach their highest speed here and this will be exacerbated with the widening of the road due to the new subdivision.

3. Foothill and Laurel. A major intersection with heavy vehicle traffic, especially during school hours that has significant pedestrian, jogger and bicyclist usage. (the Napa Public Works traffic study is available in the county website and attached to the online version of this letter). 

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I propose that two new chicanes be constructed along Laurel Street in the 3100 block and that a long modified chicane be constructed with extended road narrowing utilizing frontage along the 2800 block of Laurel with no parking on the north side to further narrow the road, a crosswalk bulb and traffic table at the intersection of Roosevelt and Laurel to provide the opposite sidewalk extension for the chicane and an additional sidewalk extension for one more jog in the 2700 block.

Napa City has the opportunity now to demonstrate their commitment to residents of the city by providing physical traffic calming measures that promote the safety of residents as well as pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists. The above measures have very little incremental cost impact above the base costs of the repaving, curb, gutter and sidewalk installation. These physical traffic-calming installations can serve as a model for other street improvements in other neighborhoods. These measures will make a huge improvement on the welfare and well being of those of us living along Laurel Street.

Napa City Public Works, please consider and implement these suggestions for the betterment of the residents of Laurel Street and surrounding neighborhoods.

Lance Houser

Napa

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