Verano Avenue and Hwy 12 Intersection in the Springs
Caltrans and its partners are working on plans to increase pedestrian safety at the Verano Avenue/Highway 12 intersection in the Springs.
Typically, improvement projects, including safety upgrades, take many years to implement as a project must go through a process where funding is secured, environmental impacts are assessed, designs are engineered, and traffic movements analyzed. However, the spike in pedestrian incidents at Verano/Hwy 12 has caused Caltrans to expedite this project.
Still intersections are complicated, and this one is particularly populated with features that require consideration. Maxwell Park, a nearby bike lane, and numerous ingresses and egresses to businesses, create a bundle of conflicting movements that include pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.
As opposed to a traditional project where improvements are made during a single phase, Caltrans has broken this project into three components: Improvements Made to Date, Phase I Improvements, and Phase II Improvements.
Improvements Made to Date
- The Sonoma County Transportation Public Works Department upgraded the traditional crosswalk, replacing it with a ladder-style crosswalk.
- Caltrans refreshed the remaining striping in the intersection to increase visibility.
- Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI) have been implemented at this intersection, giving pedestrians a “WALK” signal before traffic gets a green light. This gives pedestrians a head start across the intersection, but more importantly, it makes them more visible to motorists.
Phase I Improvements -Improvements to be Made in the Near Term
- Install larger speed limit signs for the enhanced driver awareness.
- Install "Yield to Pedestrian" signs near the intersection.
- Sonoma County Install temporary solar luminaires (overhead lights) at the northwest and southeast quadrants of the intersection to brighten these areas. Caltrans will install permanent luminaires during the long-term project.
- Lastly, Caltrans has devised two options for the signal modification at the intersection to eliminate conflicts between traffic turning from Verano Avenue onto Hwy 12. Caltrans will seek public input on which design is preferable. Both options will result in additional travel time/congestion for motorists but will enhance pedestrian safety.
- Option 1 (Split Phasing)
Currently, the Verano traffic movements (No 4 and 8 on the diagram left) including right turns get the concurrent GREEN/WALK with the pedestrian crossing movements (No 8P and 4P).
To eliminate the potential left turn and ped crossing movements conflict, Caltrans would put traffic EB Verano (No 4) and southside Ped crossing (No 4P) movements in one phase (concurrent green) and put WB Verano (No 8) and north side Ped crossing (No 8P) in another phase.
Pros and Cons: By having eastbound and westbound Verano in separate phases, the conflict between pedestrians and left-turning traffic is eliminated. Conflicts between pedestrians and right-turning traffic remain. This option will cause more traffic congestion than the present configuration, but less than Option II below.
- Option 2 (Exclusive Pedestrian Phase)
Caltrans will implement a phase where traffic is stopped in all directions including right turns and pedestrians can cross on any leg of the intersection. An exclusive pedestrian phase is rarely implemented on state highways but can be seen in use in many downtowns. In San Francisco, for example, some intersections allow pedestrians to cross diagonally in an "X"-pattern while traffic waits in four directions. This movement, called a "Scramble," allows diagonal pedestrian crossing during an Exclusive Pedestrian Phase. Verano/12 would not be a Scramble because diagonal crossing would not be allowed during the Exclusive Pedestrian Phase.
Pros and Cons: The Exclusive Pedestrian Phase Provides the most safety for pedestrians. Requires awareness/patience/cooperation from motorists, which can be achieved through comprehensive outreach/enforcement/etc. Note that the Exclusive Pedestrian Phase would not be automatically implemented. The phase would only be activated when a pedestrian pushed the Walk Signal button.
Phase II Improvements - Improvements to be Made in the Long Term
These will be the long-term improvements which are still in the project development phase. As such, many of the details haven't been worked out. Below is an outline of our plans:
- Install exclusive left turn lane for WB Verano to EB Route 12 and restripe the lanes.
- Separate left turn signal phases for Verano to Route 12 movements and install new signal for WB left turn lane.
- Install permanent lighting at northwest and southeast quadrants of the intersection.
- Install traffic cameras for analytics for intersection of Verano and Hwy12.
- Install new signals for existing free right movements to enhance pedestrian safety.
- Install speed feedback signs on each direction of Hwy 12.
- Install accessible pedestrian signals (audible APS)
- Extend the pedestrian railing and add signs at the end of the bike paths.
Frequently Asked Questions
- For questions and comments please contact: Verano12@dot.ca.gov