Shuttles, turn lanes explored as traffic solutions 

City and school officials look at options, weigh costs

SAN CARLOS — City and school officials are weighing options to relieve traffic around a trio of local schools, including a new for-pay shuttle or changes to a key intersection near those schools.

Gridlock has intensified near Tierra Linda Middle School and the Charter Learning Center, which share a campus next door to Carlmont High School, since San Carlos shut down its citywide shuttle service, SCOOT, in June of 2005. Although local parents are cooperating to reduce traffic woes, city and school leaders have held recent meetings to find other solutions.

One of those could be a for-pay shuttle that would cost approximately $200,000 per year to operate, according to Mayor Matt Grocott. Another would be the addition of a $250,000 turn lane on Alameda De Las Pulgas, shuttling cars into the Tierra Linda/CLC campus on one side and forcing them to exit on Dartmouth Drive, according to Public Works Director Parviz Mokhtari.

"We’re looking at [these schools] specifically because they have the most traffic," Grocott said. "We can’t do a walking or bike program as easily up there, because the sidewalks aren’t continuous and it’s hilly."

However, the schools have had some luck encouraging the use of local buses and carpools, which has alleviated the worst of the traffic, according to Lesley Martin, principal at Tierra Linda Middle School.

"The parents have been responsive," Martin said. "I see a lot of kids coming out of carpools."

The addition of a shuttle or reconfiguration of traffic flow would be a welcome addition, according to Martin. San Carlos disbanded SCOOT, which operated routes throughout San Carlos and won awards for reducing traffic, because it was costing the city upward of $600,000 a year.

Although a new shuttle could be eligible for local transportation sales tax funds, Grocott is wary of bringing the topic to the table.

"We can’t afford to do a shuttle like we did before, so it makes me reluctant to even mention it because it makes some people excited about the issue," Grocott said.

Adding a turn lane on Alameda may also be complicated, because part of the roadway is within Belmont city limits, according to Mokhtari, who plans to bring the idea to Belmont’s Public Works Department soon. He is optimistic Belmont will approve the idea, because it will relieve gridlock for its motorists, too.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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Beth Winegarner

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