Live Oak struggles to secure second stoplight
How much longer will Live Oak be a one-stoplight town?
The City Council on Wednesday night will consider authorizing money for Union Pacific to work on coordination efforts for the city's proposed second traffic signal at Highway 99 and Elm Street.
Public Works Director Michael Bohlander said the signal is necessary to help pedestrians cross the highway and also to alleviate traffic congestion at Pennington Road and Highway 99.
“We need another signal here in town,” he said.
The Pennington intersection is the location of the city's only current traffic signal. It is also the primary road to access and leave Luther Elementary School, Live Oak Middle School and Live Oak High School, creating gridlock at times.
“We have three schools on Pennington Road, so during the school we have a massive congestion issue on Pennington three times a day,” Bohlander said.
Efforts to install a signal at the Elm intersection have been going on for years, Bohlander said.
Originally, the city asked Caltrans for the signal, since it would be along a state highway. Caltrans did not opt to build the signal, not considering it necessary for regional traffic issues.
“It's more necessary for local traffic,” Bohlander said.
The intersection is close to the railroad, so the city has to coordinate with Union Pacific to be able to change the timing of the signal's lights if a train is passing through Live Oak, he said. This will help prevent cars getting stuck on the tracks or becoming backed up on Highway 99.
The railroad will be charging the city for the work required to analyze its own system, called a “pre-emption,” Bohlander said. The council will be asked to provide up to $10,000 for the work.
“I hope it's going to be much less than that,” he said.
Even after Union Pacific's work is done, there are still many steps left before construction can begin:
Bohlander is hopeful the signal can be operating either this year or in 2008.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Robert LaHue can be reached at 749-4713. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.