New changes to Clares aims to improve traffic flow on 41st Ave., city says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I recently noticed a new sign on Clares Street and 41st Avenue that does not allow a right turn on a red light. This is a very busy intersection that is many times blocked by cars coming from the mall or northbound on 41st. It is much more efficient to allow cars driving west on Clares to turn right without a green light. If there have been problems with the traffic, maybe more tickets written on lane blocking motorists should be written and or no U-turns would be allowed on southbound 41st at this intersection. I would like to know who is responsible for this sign and how I can lodge a complaint, so maybe they will reconsider. Thank you, David L. Cruz, via email A: The congestion in that area is behind the sign's placement, said Steve Jesberg, Capitola's public works director. And that's not the only change taking place at that intersection. Bicyclists and motorists traveling through the intersection of eastbound Clares Street and 41st Avenue will notice some changes starting today. Tuesday evening, three contractors working on behalf of the city changed the way bikes and cars move through eastbound Clares at 41st. With the swipe of a brush, the left turn motion once allowed fro the right-most lane on Clares onto 41st avenue was eliminated. The writing in the road, as well as new signs in the area, now tells drivers and cyclists, “No Left Turn” from that outer most lane. “This should improve the traffic flow through the intersection,” said Steve Jesberg, the director of Capitola's public works department. The $6,000 project, which also included some concrete work, came after the city made some changes to the westbound direction of Clares at 41st. Right turns from Clares onto 41st were eliminated when the traffic light is red. “The new ‘No Right Turn on Red’ control at 41st Avenue and Clares Street is part of a series of intersection improvements the city of Capitola is implementing,” said Jesberg. “We are trying to better control and channel movements through this busy intersection. Restricting the right on red on westbound Clares should help minimize the congested intersection without removing any of the other movements.” Traffic counts show 41st avenue is the scene of 44,000 vehicle trips daily, he said, noting that the number of vehicles has relatively stayed the same the past five years. That said, his office fields numerous complaints about congestion along 41st. The changes made at this intersection come at the suggestion of many of its users, Jesberg said. Those proposed changes were then studied by “traffic engineers, who determined the changes would provide minor improvements to the level of service through the intersection, and reviewed and further recommended by our Traffic and Parking Commission, prior to approval by the City Council,” he added. “Once all the changes are in place, we will continue to monitor traffic and determine if any further changes are warranted,” said Jesberg. To comment on the changes to the intersection, reach out to Jesberg and/or the city council by mail at 420 Capitola Ave., Capitola, CA 95010, by phone at 475-7300 or fax at 464-8659.
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