Graham parents complain about daily traffic jam

Incomplete road project snarls school drop-offs

Back in 2012, a trio of students hit by vehicles near Graham Middle School spurred parents and school officials to push the city for safety improvements. Those road upgrades are now beginning to come online, but it isn't quite the safe route to school that everyone had envisioned.

One parent told the Voice that traffic around the campus has been snarled to a near standstill every morning this school year. This is partly blamed on a "road diet" that reduced traffic along Castro Street from four lanes to two. This reduction was meant to provide space for protected bike lanes, but parents say the changes have made it so simply trying to drop off students has turned into a 20-minute slog.

Some Graham parents say the problem is also caused by the ongoing construction in the area. The city's $1.17 million road improvement package -- dubbed Castro Complete Streets -- is incomplete, and construction is underway while students try to get to class. But this has caused confusion for some parents because different lanes and sidewalks are reportedly cordoned off each morning. Making the traffic situation worse, there is also a frenzy of construction activity just down the block for a planned 164-unit apartment complex.

Graham Principal Kim Thompson acknowledged on Wednesday that the traffic situation has been "a little tight" around the school, but she gave assurances that the situation would soon be improving. Road construction in the immediate vicinity of the school should be finished by the end of September, she said. In the long-term, she said she was confident that the project will be a boon for the school.

"It's still a great project -- we're going to get protected bike lanes and everything we want to keep kids safe," she said.

Mountain View city officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

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48 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Sep 4, 2017 at 11:40 pm

"...parents say the changes have made it so simply trying to drop off students has turned into a 20-minute slog." How about having the children walk or bike to school? Biking 2 miles at that age shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to go a mile. Reduces traffic and saves you time and money. Teaches your kid to be responsible. Just make sure they get proper training on how to ride a bike safely.

Web Link

7 people like this
Posted by Unk
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 5, 2017 at 7:28 am

@Anon, not everyone can afford a bike, but those who are able to walk or cycle to school in 20 minutes or less should be encouraged to do so. Agree that all students should get bike safety training too. Do the schools offer it? So many bicyclists, young and old, seem to lack even the most basic road skills, such as stopping at a stop sign.

19 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2017 at 9:01 am

@Unk - I don't get it. The family lives in Mountain View with housing prices and rents through the roof. They can't afford a bike that will save them time and money. A school commuter bike is not that expensive. We're not talking carbon wheels. Nonetheless the parents can drive their children to school in their Tesla model S. Looks like the parents need a bike so they can go to school on how to control their finances.

42 people like this
Posted by Timing
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2017 at 9:57 am

Why did they not begin the road construction until a few days before school started? If they started in June or July they'd be done by now.

21 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 5, 2017 at 11:26 am

When my son went to Graham a few years ago, there were challenges with the bike route. Biking down Miramonte is not ideal -- given the speed of traffic and lack of physically separated bike lane. There is a back entrance through Lane, but that requires cutting through an alleyway from Boranda to Lane.

If Graham wants to encourage a safe alternative route for bicyclists and pedestrians, it should consider opening up a route between Boranda and the back soccer fields. That would divert traffic from Miramonte and Castro.

43 people like this
Posted by MVMom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 5, 2017 at 3:21 pm

In my opinion the design the city is implementing is a very poor one. Cyclists in the bike lane both going to school and to work now have major safety concerns as well as the kids trying to get from cars in the parking lane to school. Cyclists are having to deal with cars parked in the parking lane for drop off and car doors now opening into the bike lane. Then cyclists have to watch for kids darting from the cars and having to cross into the bike lane to get to the school. We will see how many kids get hit and hurt by cyclists. Poor unsafe design.

75 people like this
Posted by What Did they Think
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 5, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Oh, it'll all be better when the 164 units are occupied and cars are coming/going from there. Or when the 1st floor retail is completed. Or on the first rainy day.

Two lanes should've been maintained (maybe they still can?). This safety solution could've been handled by removing streetside parking on the Graham side of the street (safer for bikes), and hiring a crossing guard for two 20 minute segments each day.

72 people like this
Posted by Glenn Meier
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 5, 2017 at 4:10 pm

The war against cars continues.

97 people like this
Posted by Safety is accidental
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 5, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Neighbors expressed multiple safety concerns regarding the Greystar project with egress/ingress and cumulative traffic impacts when combined with the Castro Street 'road diet' - including pointing out once the road diet is completed many parents who drop children off at Graham will now to need to drive through two crosswalks two times (one time each direction) as they make their way through the crosswalk at Harpster and then through the crosswalk at Sonia where they will stop (hold up traffic) as they make a u-turn and head back up through the crosswalk at Sonia (on the other side) and then again through the crosswalk at Harpster. Prior to the driveway change at Graham and road change on Castro Street, vehicles were able to pull into the driveway and drop off the child, pull out of the driveway, make a left and head South back down Castro towards Miramonte, avoiding any/all, a vehicle must pass through two separate crosswalks 2x and make a u-turn in order to make their way back to where they came from...which seems ridiculously dangerous to me (and others) but when we brought this to councils attention, we were told that if it became a problem a traffic study could be done after the fact, and adjustments could be made.

Sweet. Let's just wait until the first pedestrian is struck with this new configuration and go from there, shall we? I mean why bother listening to the people who reside on these streets and witness this dangerous conditions every single day?

Currently we are experiencing numerous vehicles turning on Harpster every weekday morning letting their child out then speeding off down Harpster at well over 25mph. We have over 13 young children (under 10) living on this tiny one block street, and these parents speeding down the street are reckless beyond belief, but yay for the improvements. Way to go!

20 people like this
Posted by magster
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2017 at 8:51 pm

My kids went to Graham and they walked, biked, or skateboarded to school every day (1 mile each way). I tried once to do the drop off and pick up, and that was it....never again They're in HS now and they both either bike or take the bus to school (3.5 miles each way). If a parent really needs to drive their kid(s) to school or pick up, then do so a few blocks away and have them walk the remainder of the way.

272 people like this
Posted by MV Native
a resident of Slater
on Sep 6, 2017 at 10:00 am

I grew up in the Neighborhood next to Graham and my parents still live there but the elephant in the room is that the Mountain View City Council is ANTI-Automobile ( they won't say it but just look at what they do). The traffic grows worse and they do Road diets in response in order to force you out of your car. I don't mind if they want to provide options so people can bike or ride if they choose but they are trying to coerce me out of my automobile. I went to the city Council meeting where they made this decision for Castro St /Graham and I suggested that they put in Flashing Crosswalks which could probably be put in for less than $50K and they opted for a $800K road diet. The costs of which have ballooned to over $1 Million for the more permanent solution they have planned. The idea of serving the public is a foreign concept to the City Council in my opinion they want to rule over us not serve the CURRENT Citizens of Mountain View. In addition they seem to be more interested in serving future residents who don't live here rather than the people they represent who cast votes for them and live in Mountain View. I live in Mountain View and I was born here and it grieves me to watch them destroy the city.

11 people like this
Posted by lan
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Sep 6, 2017 at 10:01 am

Yes another disconnect in Mountain View city planning. Mountain View is so willing and ready to add new businesses, more employees, yet do little to address overpriced and crowded housing, except to add new high-end apartments.

In addition, Mountain View does nothing to improve traffic flow through the city, does not clamp down on unsafe driving, and there appears to be little or no effort to make the city streets safer for cyclists. I used to ride my bike daily in Mountain View, but not anymore given the increased speeding and cars running red lights, or should I say cars streaming through red lights with no consequences except to put pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers at risk.

9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 6, 2017 at 10:48 am

As a Graham parent I do not drop my children off at school. I drop them off several blocks away and have them walk the rest of the way to avoid adding to the traffic. However with the current construction there a two sections of sidewalk and two crosswalks that are completely torn up making it incredibly unsafe to allow my children to continue walking on Castro right in front of their school! Where are the flaggers to help the kids get to school safely with all this mess? I 100% support the parents that are dropping off at the school during this time, it is way too dangerous to let our kids walk down castro right now.

11 people like this
Posted by Complainers!
a resident of North Bayshore
on Sep 6, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Jeez, when would people stop complaining?

5 people like this
Posted by EFmtnView
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 7, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Hey Mtn. View, how about you put in an obstacle course for the cars to go along with your failed Castro St "road diet". And then turn the Miramonte side into a speedway. As drivers race through the side streets and parking lots to get away from your "FUBAR" design. Here's another option, parents, stop driving your kids to school, your the reason this became what it is.

8 people like this
Posted by Cherie
a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 8, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Let's wait until the construction is over before passing judgement. A project under construction is hardly the same as a built-out design.

13 people like this
Posted by Safety is accidental
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 8, 2017 at 5:44 pm

The completion of the project is NOT going to change the fact that vehicles going north on Castro Street to drop their child off at Graham no longer have a way to make a left turn out of the Graham driveway, and instead are now going to be forced to drive through the crosswalk at Harpster and the crosswalk at Sonia - where they can then make a u-turn and then head back through the crosswalk at Sonia and again through the crosswalk at Harpster as they make their way southbound back up Castro Street.

Again, this safety concern was brought to city councils attention prior to final design sign off and we were told that if it becomes a problem the city can do a traffic study after the fact - you know maybe after a pedestrian or two has been struck by a vehicle - and THEN go back and fix the problem created by directing so much school traffic through multiple crosswalks, multiple times - as opposed to previous flow, where vehicles could exit the driveway and make a left turn - without crossing a single crosswalk - and proceed southbound up Castro Street.

"Complete Street" my @$$. Pfffft.

9 people like this
Posted by Yogi Logic
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2017 at 7:44 am

Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded.
Also, I can't drive my kid to school anymore because there are too many cars.

5 people like this
Posted by biking parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 9, 2017 at 1:01 pm

biking parent is a registered user.

@ Glenn Meier --

"A war on cars" -- I don't usually go to war against an inanimate object. Do you go around attacking vehicles?

5 people like this
Posted by biking parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 9, 2017 at 1:04 pm

biking parent is a registered user.

@all -- Through drivers will use Miramonte. Parents can insist that their kids walk/bike. This will be easier and safer after the project is complete and drivers learn that it is better to use Miramonte.

12 people like this
Posted by Safety is accidental
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Miramonte is already a race track, despite the 25 mph speed limit in place as one crosses the Castro/Marilyn intersection on Miramonte where there is also flashing signage indicating drivers speed.

I witness vehicles flying down that stretch of Miramonte - past St. Joseph's school - traveling in excess of 35mph every single fact, it's the norm not the exception. And despite repeated requests for traffic enforcement along this stretch of Miramonte, I can't recall the last time I have seen any kind of traffic enforcement there - in the school zone.

Any road reconfiguration along Castro street that is going to encourage drivers to use - and defacto speed - on Miramonte, is just pushing one safety hazard over a block and creating a WORSE safety a schoolzone where children are present.

3 people like this
Posted by Christina
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 10, 2017 at 4:51 pm

I grew up in a town where NOBODY drove their kids to school. If you lived more than 1/2 mile from the school, you took the school bus. 1 bus dropping off kids replaces 20+ cars... and is just as safe as each parent dropping off their kids (if not safer due to fewer cars). Since we have such a traffic problem, why don't we invest in busing *all* students to school?

6 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2017 at 10:09 pm

@Yogi Logic

The problem is too many other people dropping their kids off when I'm trying to drop my kids off!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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