Update: On August 7, the City Council considered a Resolution to authorize a 12-month pilot program to stripe the Miller Avenue "Parkway" (from Millwood to Willow) as a one-lane roadway with a buffered bike lane and curbside parking. Council voted 3 to 2 to adopt the Resolution.
As part of the pilot program, staff will report back to Council to further evaluate the functioning of the one-lane roadway configuration.
Review the August 7 meeting video, agenda and Staff Report (Item 12).
On July 17, the City Council agreed to implement a one-year pilot project retaining the single lane configuration in the Miller Avenue “Parkway” (Millwood to Willow). The Parkway was temporarily re-striped as a one-lane roadway in each direction last year to create additional unrestricted parking during the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project. Councilmembers thanked everyone for their participation in the discussion.
The City Council’s decision followed a lengthy public comment and was supported by three members of the Council – Mayor Sloan, Vice Mayor Moulton-Peters, and Councilmember McEntee, with Councilmembers Wickham and McCauley favoring retention of the two lane configuration of the Streetscape Plan. Council received more than 75 communications and heard more than 20 speakers on the issue. Online petitions for and against the single lane configuration were also submitted, as was a petition to create curbside parking in front of the businesses on the 300 block of Miller Ave (WIGT Printing, Mill Valley Cleaners, and Mill Valley Music).
Council cited the fundamental feature of the project, which is making Miller Avenue a multi-modal or a “Complete Street” for all modes of travel, which means making it safer for all users whether they are in a car, on a bike, bus, or walking. They also listed reasons such as minimal impacts on travel times, creating parking, calming and slowing traffic to the allowable speed limits. The one-lane configuration also allows for a wider travel lane and a buffered bike lane.
“Safety has to always be our number one consideration whenever we are doing anything in our town,” Mayor Jessica Sloan said. “For safety reasons, I am in favor of the one-lane configuration as it has been for the past year.”
Two concerns raised by community members interested in changing the street back to a two-lane configuration were addressed: Emergency egress and traffic. In response to these concerns, Fire Chief Tom Welch and Police Chief Angel Bernal both stated that the Parkway area has adequate space for emergency evacuations, and if needed, they could use both sides (inbound and outbound) to create an evacuation route out of the City.
Councilmembers also noted that traffic studies indicate that one lane is sufficient to handle the volume of cars passing through the area, and observed that this section of roadway rarely experiences traffic backups. The majority of cut-through traffic occurs in other sections of Miller (off of La Goma and Montford), not on the side streets off of the Parkway. They acknowledged that traffic on East Blithedale remains a concern, but that the Council is actively addressing the factors which create traffic on this major corridor. They cited the Yellow School Bus program to lessen cross-freeway school trips and work with the County to improve signal synchronization at the East Blithedale/Hwy 101 overpass.
Council also noted cost considerations for the alternatives such as moving the median including the need to relocate utility poles to provide sufficient width for the bike lane and buffer area.
Increased enforcement will immediately be in place with the new pavement to keep vehicle speeds down while the City reviews further improvements to review and return the speed limit to 25 mph. Council expressed that they are taking the issue about safety seriously and have requested additional education and enforcement in the area. Council also reduced the speed limit on Field House turn, adjacent to Tam High School, which is another area of Miller Avenue, but it reinforces the overall message of safety and reduced speeds.
Councilmembers commented that the Miller Avenue Plan has received fine-tuning over the years, based on resident feedback, and that the Council embraces a philosophy of flexibility: Trying things out, gathering data, and making decisions based on data and community input. The one-year pilot program will allow the City to gauge the performance of the roadway configuration while local traffic returns to normal after the completion of the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project at the end of the year.
“There is a lot of speculation about what is going to happen, and that is what makes a pilot test such a good idea. We can actually find out once and for all,” Vice Mayor Stephanie Moulton-Peters said. “You plan for flexibility, and I think that is what we are trying to do here”
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