Two distinctly opposing opinions have emerged on the recently installed speed tables meant to slow traffic on Cuesta Drive in Los Altos. Residents living on the well-traveled street love them. Others – not so much.
The two viewpoints were clearly evident at last week’s Los Altos City Council meeting. Council members were asked July 13 to accept and deem complete the work of Redgwick Construction Co. Per city direction, Redgwick installed seven “speed tables” on Cuesta and five smaller “speed humps” along Arboleda Drive running parallel to the south. The city paid Redgwick $522,279 for the work.
Speed tables are designed to lift the entire wheelbase of a vehicle, rising to 3.5 inches high at a length of roughly 22 feet, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
Council members passed a resolution to close out the Redgwick contract and approved a separate motion directing staff to expedite work on a solution that addresses motorists’ complaints while still meeting traffic-calming objectives.
Most Cuesta residents who spoke at last week’s meeting welcomed the project, citing increased safety – especially for students walking to and from schools. But others railed against the height of the speed tables, citing unsafe driving conditions.
City staff measured heights straight on, at ranging between 3.2 and 4.9 inches at the midpoint of the table, and rising to as high as 9 inches when measuring from the sides. The increased side measurements are due to the curvature of the street, noted the city’s assistant civil engineer Gaku Watanabe.
Engineering services director Jim Sandoval said the goal of the project, approved in May 2019, was to reduce the 85th percentile speed to an enforceable speed of less than 30 mph. Sandoval said that goal was achieved, with post-project average speeds at 25-28 mph.
“The nearest 5 mph speed is enforceable, so the nearest speed to the 25-28 mph range would be 25 mph,” he said. “So those signs are enforceable for speeders on Cuesta.”
Traffic volume down
Recent data collected along Cuesta at Arboleda shows a decrease in daily traffic volume from 4,439 trips in 2019 to 1,891 trips.
Sandoval said the city is adding striping and signage in the area per an April recommendation from the city’s Complete Streets Commission. Also included is a pedestrian pathway on the north side of Cuesta between Campbell and South Clark avenues for safe school travel.
“What a difference the traffic-calming measures made – speeds down, volume down,” said Cuesta resident Suresh Babu. “I think this is a model of how the community and the city can work together to make a city safe. … I believe the only folks who believe they are entitled to drive through neighborhoods at speeds of 35-40 mph, who have no idea what speed tables are designed to do, are the only ones complaining.”
Others who spoke at the meeting disagreed.
“I am not a fan of these speed tables,” said resident Janet Corrigan. “(They) are causing cars to bottom out and damage the road. With all due respect … homeowners who bought on Cuesta and nearby got a discount for their homes because they were not on a quiet street – they should not be permitted to convert this emergency route to El Camino Hospital into a private street by making it impassable.”
Dan Cohen described the tables as “way over spec” and difficult to drive over, especially with his neck injury. Another resident said she had to slow down to 7 mph to prevent damage to her vehicle.
But Arboleda resident Kelly Berman stressed the personal impact of the tables by having her 9-year-old daughter describe how she now feels safe walking to school with the reduced and slower traffic.
Resident Terri Couture reminded meeting participants that the project was necessary because of frequent speeding.
“I sure wish every traveler in Los Altos would obey the speed-limit signs,” she said. “If we did that, we wouldn’t need these darn bumps.”
Note: This article has been updated to correct an incorrect name in the print version of this article.