Ineffective Santa Rosa Freeway Is Blamed On 'Selfish Interests'
"Selfish interests" which forced through a ground level Freeway instead of a proposed viaduct plan through Santa Rosa have been responsible for a highway which has been a "detriment to the through highway users" and has resulted in an increased injury and death toll.
That was City Manager Sam B. Hood's summation of the effect of the Freeway on Santa Rosa since its opening May 20, 1949. He spoke yesterday at a meeting of the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. Other speakers were James Krause and Raymond Boege, city managers of Petaluma and San Rafael, respectively.
Mr. Hood pointed out that since the opening of the Freeway there have been 5 deaths and 47 persons injured, "some seriously." He said that in the year before the Freeway's opening there were more accidents, about the same number of injuries and no deaths. There was less than a 10 per cent reduction in accidents after the Freeway opened, he said.
Mr. Hood said the district captain of the State Highway Patrol and Chief Melvin Flohr have blamed excessive speed as the greatest single cause of the accidents.
He added that reduction of speed limits and other traffic control measures have been an advantage to the city but a detriment to through highway users. He added that the merchants who "through fear of losing their business instigated the change in plans now find that the present freeway has not affected their business one way or the other."
He described the plea of Assistant State Highway Engineer Col. John H. Skaggs as that of a "voice lost in the wilderness." Col. Skaggs had urged an overhead freeway construction, or that the freeway be constructed out of town. It has been shown. Mr. Hood said that "there Is more cross traffic on the State Highway crossing the Freeway than there is on the highway itself. The need for an underpass at these 2 crossings is already recognized."
He called the Freeway "only a widened highway running through a heavily traveled 3- mile stretch with dangerous cross traffic."
He concluded, "If the Highway Commission today were to recommend a freeway outside of Santa Rosa, I doubt if there would be one voice raised in objection."
City Manager Krause desscribed the advantages to Petaluma which will result when the proposed Petaluma by-pass is constructed. He said that the Highway Commission has adopted a freeway route between Petaluma and Cotati and that the 1951-52 highway budget includes $200,000 to start purchase of a rights-of-way.
He said that the construction of the by-pass will benefit local main business streets divested of through traffic (tourist and truck) because it will provide increased capacity for local (Petaluma) traffic. "The loss of the tourist trade will be more than offset by an increase in local trade, and truck drivers don't shop in our business district anyway."
He said property values in the area of the by-pass would increase because of increased accessibility and improved traffic conditions. Pedestrian safety and convenience would also benefit because the volume of heavy, through traffic would be eliminated.
Other benefits which may be derived from the by-pass Mr. Krause said were:
1. Less wear and tear on city streets caused by heavy long distance truck movement.
2. Reduced noise, exhaust fumes and traffic conflicts.
3. Reduced hazard of explosion, fire and gas leaks from trucks.
4. Expediting of through traffic.
5. Simplification of local traffic control.
8. Added convenience in parking.
7. Fewer traffic accidents and delays in city streets due to separation of local and through traffic.
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