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Council Supports Traffic Light at Trader Joe's

The Los Altos City Council heard plans for safety upgrades at busy and tricky intersection.

A new traffic light at the entrance to the Foothill Crossings Shopping Center and other improvements along a busy stretch of Homestead Road appeared closer to construction this summer.

The Los Altos City Council were very supportive of plans presented during the study session on the plans Tuesday; no vote was required.

The proposed traffic improvements on Homestead Road, by the busy shopping center that contains a Trader Joe’s is extremely busy, by virtue of being located next to Foothill Expressway and at the foot of an off-ramp from Interstate 280. There are no fewer than seven entrances to the shopping center, an adjacent gas station and adjacent apartment building along the south side of Homestead Road, all of which see cars coming and going.

The improvements between El Sereno Avenue and the freeway bridge over Highway 85, include a Class 1 bike path for bicyclists and pedestrians and new crosswalks. They are part of a Safe Route to School plan, to help students commuting from south Los Altos to Cupertino Middle School in Sunnyvale, and Homestead High School in Cupertino.

“Next year my son Charlie, he is 10 years old, will be commuting to Cupe (Cupertino) Middle School. I am very concerned for his safety as it exists now,” said resident Julie Crane. She and her husband, Charles, urged the city to move forward with the project.

Foothill Crossing Shopping Center owner Tom Harrington said that while he agreed with providing safety for students, he could not agree with placing a traffic light at the center’s entrance, fearing the light will backup traffic in the parking lot and adversely affect business.

Crane said she was very disappointed by comments during a on the project from those whose “worst-case scenario” was being delayed in the parking lot because of a traffic light.

“I voiced the opinion that my worst-case scenario is my son getting hit by a car,” Crane said.

Adam Porter, a city associate engineer, said the light would be timed with lights at Homestead and Foothill Expressway, and that queueing times were not expected to be lengthy.

Calling the intersection “an accident waiting to happen”, Councilmember Megan Satterlee said she believes the improvements will not only create a safer route to school, it will also create a safer way for residents on the east side of Homestead to walk to the shopping center.

“I think you’ll see an uptick in business as more people walk,” she said.

Councilmember David Casas said he also believed the improved intersection would benefit senior citizens, who have told him how wary they are of traveling that route.

The $1 million project is already funded through existing budget monies and a Highway Safety Improvement Program Grant of more than $600,000. Porter said the project design is 90 percent complete. Construction could begin sometime this summer, and last about six months.

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