Multiple car crashes into resident’s backyard cause for concern

In December 2019, the City of Paso Robles received a grant for over $100,000 to perform a roadway safety evaluation from the State of California.

The grant is a result of Local Roadway Safety Plans and Systemic Safety Analysis Report Program (SSARP), which is part of federal regulations that require each state to have a Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Working with federal, state, local, and private sector safety stakeholders, the SHSP establishes goals, objectives, and emphasis (or challenge) areas. The SHSP addresses the 4Es of traffic safety: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, and Emergency Services, according to the Caltrans website.

“It’s an important grant because every city has to have one, an evaluation, in order to apply for future state safety grants through the Active Transportation Act program,” City Engineer David Athey said.

Athey said the City’s plan would examine the high accident rates of corridors and intersections and develop rankings and possible solutions for troubled areas. He noted that fixes could include something as simple as signage to redesigning an intersection or a stretch of road. Athey said that although the coronavirus disrupted City plans, he intends to have a plan completed by the end of 2020 and ready for the City Council’s consideration.

“Periodically, we will update that plan every couple of years,” Athey said, “[we’ll] relook at the accident rate and see what countermeasures we’ve deployed out have worked or if we need to do some additional work.” He went on to say, “It’s important because we want everyone to go home at night, we don’t want people going to the hospital or worse.”

According to Paul Lopez, whose house backs up against the intersection of Creston Road and Golden Hills Road, the thoroughfares are a problem area. Two times in the last six months, cars have careened off the street and crashed through the cinder block wall into his backyard. Lopez estimates that about six vehicles have demolished parts of the wall along the road in the several years that he lived there beginning in 2013.

“The thing is now we are afraid to be in our backyard,” Lopez said. He continued, “the road is a 35 MPH road, and no one does 35 MPH, and I bet they’re over 50 and higher.”

Lopez said that he fears for the safety of not only his family but also his neighbors and any pedestrians who use the sidewalk, including school children. Lopez said that he wants the City to develop a temporary safety measure to protect people while the City is in the process of creating a permanent solution even if it is unsightly.

In the meantime, Athey said that the City repaired the wall and established a small barrier to protect that specific portion of the wall.

“We’ve provided a vehicle barrier right now just until we can come up with a long term solution at that location,” Athey said.

road safety barrier T-rails

The K-rail or Jersey Barrier, those concrete walls seen on highways, are designed to protect the surrounding environment while minimizing vehicle damage.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles