At the Hollister City Council meeting Dec. 6, council members learned the intersection at Maple Street and Chappell Road does not warrant a stop sign. Safety matters were brought up by concerned residents affected by that intersection at the Sept. 21 council meeting.
“Some of the things that we heard were about line of sight issues, fast pace drivers, and that there aren’t stop signs on the northbound or southbound sides of Chappell Road,” said Abraham Prado, development services department planning manager.
According to Prado, Hollister Police assessed the intersection soon after that meeting, and found the residents’ traffic concerns to be valid. Prado said that Kimley-Horn, an engineering firm contracted by the city, conducted a traffic study and analysis of the intersection. Using the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Standards, it was determined that the intersection does not warrant a stop sign. Prado said his staff has already sent public notices in English and Spanish to affected residents.
Prado explained that both major and minor roads are examined in such studies. In this one, the major road (Chappell) and minor road (Maple) were analyzed by reviewing the volume of drivers between Sept. 21 and Sept. 25. The study determines the highest volume of traffic during an eight-hour regular weekday, when work and school days do not include holidays.
The study showed that Chappell Road only had an 8-hour average of 162 vehicles per hour and Maple Road had an 8-hour average of only 92 vehicles per hour. Prado said that major roads would need 300 vehicles per hour, and minor roads would need 200 vehicles per hour, to warrant a stop sign.
Prado also said the results from the study led his planning staff to recommend speed bumps be placed on Chappell Road near Maple Street; the landscaping on the northwest corner of the intersection be trimmed; and that the six parking spaces along the west side of Chappell Road (north of the intersection) be removed for adequate sight distance when turning from Maple Street onto Chappell Road.
Councilmember Tim Burns asked if the City Council had the right to disregard the study and still install a stop sign.
Prado said that if the council installs a stop sign without having traffic study results to support it, research data shows that accidents are more likely to occur.
“During peak hours the stop sign may be needed, but during non-peak hours, there appears to be a tendency of vehicles driving through stop signs,” Prado explained. “It creates more of a risk for collision.”
Burns asked if there would be legal implications. Mayor Ignacio Velasquez said that if there was an accident at an intersection at an unwarranted stop sign, “the lawyers would first look at the studies and the reports.”
“If [lawyers] were to find that a stop sign was put in that wasn’t warranted, [the city] would be liable,” Velasquez said.
City Manager Brett Miller agreed, and asked that the council follow the recommendations of the traffic engineer analysis.
Regarding the landscaping that has caused visibility issues at the intersection, councilmember Rick Perez suggested replacing bushes with ground covering.
Prado said that was something that could “absolutely” be considered.
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