Graham Hill Road tree removal creates glare, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Thanks for your column. I had a question about the Graham Hill Road project. Do traffic engineers study the impact of cutting down trees on glare? I understand from one of your earlier posts that the Graham Hill Road work is mainly to prevent cars from running into the gulley on the side of the road. Yesterday, I was driving north on Graham Hill and encountered a blinding glare as the sun set behind Ben Lomond mountain. I wonder if we've traded the occasional car in the gulley for more serious accidents. Dustin Mulvaney, Ben Lomond A: “In my 25-plus years of traffic and civil design work experience, not once has the location of the sun been a factor in the design of a road project,” said Jack Sohriakoff, senior civil engineer for the county public works department. “This is because the sun moves throughout the year and it would be impossible to identify the most crucial sun angle to design around. Can you imagine the liability if we did?” Sohriakoff went on to say that many of the trees that are being trimmed or removed are undergoing the change to allow for the relocation of utility poles and wires. “These need to be relocated in order to widen the road, improve the shoulders, and create a better drainage system which will reduce collisions on this road segment,” he said. “The sun is not considered a factor in any of this work. The trees are extremely important but some do have to be removed. If this results in sunshine getting into places where it hasn’t been in a long time, it will just be a matter of time before the trees can cover the road again.”
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