Safety barrier OK’d for Westborough

Fatal head-on collisions along Westborough Boulevard could be relegated to the realm of a bad memory after officials announced plans to install a metal guardrail down the road’s center divider later this month.

At least 25 crossover accidents have occurred on Westborough between Junipero Serra Boulevard and El Camino Real since 1984, including two fatalities in recent years, South San Francisco police said. Speeding and drunken driving have been factors in accidents along the road, which has a slight downhill grade from Junipero Serra, South San Francisco police Sgt. Joni Lee said.

It is hoped that installation of the barrier, announced last week, will prevent cars from crossing over into oncoming traffic, South San Francisco Mayor Richard Garbarino said.

“That road seems to be conducive to people driving fast, and before you know it, the road does a couple of turns that can be very hazardous,” Garbarino said.

While admitting that the barrier won’t stop all accidents along the road, it is probably the “best defense” traffic experts have conceived of for the dangerous stretch of road, Garbarino said.

“We have had several fatalities [along Westborough], including the most recent [last August] where officers had to pull someone from a burning car,” Lee said Tuesday.

The metal barrier — partially on unincorporated county land and partially on city land — will be about 2,500 feet long and cost the county about $156,000. South San Francisco will pay another $32,000, for a total of $188,000. Work could begin as soon as this month or early June; installation should take about a month, said Joe LoCoco, principle civil engineer for San Mateo County Department of Public Works, the lead agency for the project.

Plans for the barrier took more than three years to negotiate with the county, and Garbarino said his only regret is that the guardrail installation didn’t happen sooner. To blame for the long delay is a disagreement between the county and city over who would pay how much for the barrier, or whether a barrier was needed, since it crosses jurisdictional lines, officials said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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