A Berkeley city report on whether to install a stoplight at a busy Shattuck Avenue intersection where a man was killed last January recommends that one should be installed — eventually.
The report, issued by the city’s Transportation Department, indicates there is not enough pedestrian or vehicle traffic at the corner of Woolsey and Shattuck to put in a stoplight now. It concludes, however, that traffic levels will warrant a stoplight when the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC), an educational and resource center for the disabled, is built at the Ashby BART station a few blocks west of the intersection. The report says the ERC should be asked to contribute to the estimated $150,000 cost of installing the stoplight.
ERC Project Manager Caleb Dardick has not seen the city’s report and would not comment on it, but he did say the center “intends to be a good neighbor and offset any impacts the campus will have.”
In the meantime, to improve pedestrian visibility, the city has put zebra stripes on the crosswalks at both Shattuck and Woolsey and Shattuck and Prince streets. The Prince intersection also recently received a pedestrian crosswalk sign. The improvements should be in place in a few weeks, said Peter Hillier, Berkeley’s assistant city manager for transportation.
In addition, the report calls for the Berkeley Police to step up patrols in the area and set up a radar speed feedback trailer — a device that tells drivers how fast they’re going — from “time to time.”
Last Jan. 17, longtime Berkeley resident and community activist John Henry Mitchell was killed by a car while crossing Shattuck at Woolsey.
Upon seeing the report, Mitchell’s family members were skeptical about its language. They wanted to know if the ERC merely would be asked to contribute to the stoplight cost or whether it would be required.
But, according to Hillier, the request “was a polite way of saying that it [the stoplight] should be added as a condition of development approval.”
Hillier added that in a separate report the ERC’s own traffic consultant also concluded that a traffic signal would be required at Woolsey and Shattuck when the campus is built. The consultant recommended to ERC that they contribute to the cost of the signal. How much the ERC would be required to contribute “comes about through some discussion, negotiation,” said Hillier.
Plans for the ERC have not been finalized, but representatives for the project recently forecasted that construction will begin in 2005. The stoplight at Woolsey and Shattuck would be installed at the same time. Mitchell’s widow, Siglinde, said a stoplight is needed and was frustrated to learn it would take a few years. “I still would have thought that the gravity of the situation” would have impacted the decision, she said. She said the city is putting residents at risk. “For years this community has been trying to get something done down there, even before John,” she said. “We had so many petitions signed. What does it take to stretch the rules?”