No Longer Cow-ntentious Safety Project

May 18, 2012

One month after the measure provoked open disagreement between COWncil members, the COWncil quietly and without discussion approved a plan to improve school pedestrian crossings on Woodside Road near the school. The project is budgeted at a total cost of $215,600,- although the total cost is expected to come in under $200,000. The San Mateo County Transportation Authority will contribute $21,600 from Measure A funds and $194,000 will come from a Federal highway safety program. The Town itself is not expected to spend any money except staff time on overseeing the project.

Here’s what the adopted Resolution says about the project. “The Project consists of replacing the two existing electric light activated crosswalks with solar powered light activated crosswalks, striping, in-road warning light, enhanced signage, pathway regarding, and flooding and stormwater sheet flow reductions through storm drain inlet and lateral pipe modifications.”

You may remember what happened at the March 13th COWncil meeting, however, when it wasn’t such smooth sailing for the project. During that meeting, COWncil newcomer Shanahan initiated a discussion about the proper decision making process with regard to the expenditure of government funds – heady talk for our little COWtown! COWncil member Shanahan questioned whether the project was a good use of money.

COWncilmember Gordon offered a full-throated defense of the project, citing her personal experience of seeing a woman get killed in a traffic collision. She replied by saying that the Town could always reject the money, but that the intersection has problems and will have to be fixed eventually. Ultimately, the responsibility for that intersection is Caltrans’, and presumably they might eventually get around to it – but given the State’s fiscal situation as noted by COWncilmember Shanahan, no one seemed very confident that they would be doing the project any time soon. She finished by saying that she wasn’t for spending money just because you have it, but that this money would solve problems with the crosswalk and drainage and make the intersection safer for residents. Gordon also said that she’s “always felt that I’m better off if my neighbor’s better off and safer.”

COWncilmember Romines offered the perspective that the money was already “spent” when Congress allocated it so that the money would be spent somewhere, and rejecting it wouldn’t change that. Town staff also said that they would make sure to oversee the project in an efficient manner and that there is an audit process to ensure that.

We appreciated that discussion because policy differences seldom get aired. We encourage you to check it out on Mootube. It was a definite change from the sometimes dry COWncil meetings. After all that, the project was approved at the April meeting without any discussion at all. It is a good project and we support it. We think it is a good thing for the COWncil to openly express differences in opinion and to seriously relook at policy with fresh eyes.

In other school safety news, the Town approved $20,000 for another project designed to help children get safely to school. The money would be a ten percent matching grant for hoped-for State funds to improve the trail along Cañada Road between Romero Road and Eucalyptus Court as part of the Safe Routes to School Program. It is another project that we applaud. There is nothing more important than the safety of our young-uns.

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