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Update on traffic signal at Redwood & Olive

This a.m., City crews installed a temporary east-west centerline across Redwood at Olive, to help guide east-west left-turning motorists. If the centerline is effective, crews will make the changes permanent.

Since the activation of the new traffic signal in early October, staff has heard and is noting community concerns over the navigation through the intersection—specifically motorists driving from Olive Ave. and turning left onto, or across, Redwood Blvd.

Staff continue to work with traffic engineers to further improve the driving experience and address the unique configuration of that intersection, to address the concerns. Thank you for your patience!

Novato Native December 19, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Regardless of the longterm solution and all the suggestions... Could NPD post on Patch what we are to do today when we go through the intersection? I think once everyone knows what to do (or at least a majority) others will follow by example and possibly improve the safety of the intersection? I know the city is broke but even if the community officer in the van sat out there and directed the confused that would be great! Or if we have any retired volunteer police officers that would help a lot! (Volunteer hopefully means free or closer to it?) Happy Holidays everyone and stay safe!
JBW December 19, 2013 at 10:57 AM
I don't believe there is a safe way to navigate the intersection as it is currently designed. Until a second lane is added to westbound Olive it will continue to be a lawsuit waiting to happen. Perhaps we should turn off and cover the traffic lights and return the double stop signs until the road can be widened / corrected. When completed the intersection should look like Grant and Redwood.
garyp1945 December 19, 2013 at 11:01 AM
Perhaps the rocket scientist traffic engineer that designed this new intersection should go back and review "traffic 101A"! When the city spent the money to put a much needed light in they should of put in staged signals for left turns from Olive going East & West, and a left turn lane for each direction. The way it is now is just a major accident waiting to happen.
garyp1945 December 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Just a note, the intersection at Grant & Redwood is about twice the size (width & length) of the Olive and Redwood one. That extra space / distance makes the left turn (either direction) much easier and safer than at Olive & Redwood.
Roger December 19, 2013 at 11:33 AM
Gary: Yes, the Grant intersection is bigger. That is what N Tim pointed out above. Last night I saw two turning cars meet in the middle of the Olive inspection and they both violated that new painted center line....because that is what you do if you are at the Grant intersection.
Novato Tim December 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM
If putting in a turn signal is not a viable option, the traffic light should be 3-way, that is each direction on Olive should have separate exclusive rights-of-passage. It would make the wait times longer, but it would definitely be safer.
honu December 19, 2013 at 01:03 PM
I agree with JBW. Olive Ave. should have an extra lane westbound from the TJ's parking lot to Redwood Blvd. From there as one crosses Redwood, there should be a left-turn lane and another to continue straight across Redwood. Traffic coming south on Redwood need to have a well-delineated lane for turning left or making a U-turn as so many of these drivers are DETERMINED to do even though they could just go straight down Olive eastbound and enter the parking lot for TJ's that way. It seems it worked better as a 4-way stop for years. It's just that so many new drivers don't seem to remember the rules of courtesy AND making their turns PROMPTLY when it's their turn.
Michelle D December 19, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Roger, Thank you for your follow -up comment. From a project managers point of view I don't know why the city did not wait until they had all their ducks in a row , ie; the Corp of Engineers drainage swale solution before they started a project that wasn't completely sorted out to begin with. This wouldn't fly in other towns that I work in when we redesign driveway entries adjacent to existing streets + especially drainage swales. A full master plan is required that takes into account drainage, turning radius.... etc... before a permit will even be considered. It makes financial and safety sense . - The city must have money to spare .
Michelle D December 19, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Tim, I like your idea of a rotary but they do not work very well when there is a concentration of pedestrians, which this intersection has. They work best with an uninterrupted pattern of flowing traffic . With pedestrians present, it breaks the flow. best, Michelle ( one who grew up with rotaries )
Brent Carlson December 19, 2013 at 08:23 PM
What I have heard is "The Ditch along Olive Avenue" is California Fish and Game jurisdiction and will take years to mediate. It will require study with tidal zone and connection with Rush Creek. Maybe the US Army Corp of Engineers can configure a dike/ flood basin for the area.
Alex Spring December 20, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Who designed novato's overly wide Redwood Rd with huge medians? What was it meant for? Please explain. And remind everyone, on which side do you pass opposing car in the middle of a Redwood intersection?
Bob Ratto December 20, 2013 at 10:54 AM
Alex Long ago, Redwood was Highway 101. I am not going to touch your other question, but I am never going through the Olive Redwood intersection on my motorcycle because of some of the comments above.
Tim B December 20, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Michelle, you're right. Rotaries/traffic circles/roundabouts do make traffic flow more smoothly and safely. They are also better for pedestrians and bicyclists on single lane roads (i.e. Olive) but not so much on dual lanes (Redwood) where one lane of traffic might yield to a pedestrian but the other might not (unless a light was installed). There are solutions. Let's start a Novato rotary boosters club. Maybe we can recruit some rotarians?! This article is interesting on the pedestrian/bicycle subject; http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/faqs/answer.cfm?id=3454
Hopkin December 20, 2013 at 02:24 PM
But Bob, when Redwood was 101, certainly it didn't have the curves and median?
Hopkin December 20, 2013 at 02:29 PM
And since we are on the subject of traffic lights, has anyone else noticed the wonky order for turning left from eastbound DeLong onto Reichert, and eastbound San Marin onto Redwood? And the extraordinarily long waits at the lights on Novato Blvd at Seventh, and northbound freeway offramp onto Rowland?
Allen December 20, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Before the curves were put in, there were no stop signs at Olive and Vallejo. I assume the purpose was to reduce the speed of motorists going up&down Redwood. Then we put stops signs up, instead of building a third lane in each direction for turning. I agree with Honu's earlier comment. I lived off of Olive for years and was amazed at how westbound motorists were unable to negotiate a simple 2-way stop. Is this not tested on the driving test? Just because you cross either the north or south lanes does not mean you don't have yield to oncoming traffic.
Allen December 20, 2013 at 06:15 PM
It seems we have too many incompetent drivers that will not be happy until we put a cloverleaf at the intersection. And then, maybe a traffic cop . . .
Hopkin December 20, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Allen, it was really bad when they were still installing the traffic lights, and the STOP sign either fell over or was ignored. I was almost hit 2 or 3 times by people turning onto Olive and not stopping or even slowing down in the center. A third lane for turning like on Novato Blvd north of 7th, instead of stop signs?
Becky December 21, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Has anyone else noticed problems with the left turns from Redwood to Olive too??.. people get half way through the turn then stop mid intersection for the other directions red light creating back ups and additional confusion
Sam December 21, 2013 at 09:51 AM
The only problem is the dumb drivers who need to re take the drivers test so they can fail and loose the license they have . You people complain about everything and need to get a life
Novato Tim December 21, 2013 at 10:26 AM
Actually, apart from that comment above, this has been a remarkably productive conversation. Various ideas have been passed back and forth and analyzed. Sort of what the web should be like all of the time. I also note that the timing of various traffic lights seems to be off. It used to only be the Redwood/Lamont light that would irritate me. But more recently, the DeLong/Reichert light seems heavily skewed towards the east/west traffic, trying to turn left off of Rowland towards Moylans has been a nightmare, and I won't even discuss Redwood/DeLong.
Allen December 21, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Sam, I guess you're one of the people complaining.
Roger December 21, 2013 at 05:56 PM
The turning practice required at Olive is different than at Grant. At the Grant intersection, two opposing turning cars meet in the middle and wait (staring head on at each other) while the through traffic moves straight along Grant. At Olive the desired practice is for opposing turning cars to pass each other on the right (not cross the new center line). And if they have to wait, wait along side each other. This is much different experience than the Grant turning practice.
Jennifer Goldman Carden December 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM
At least something is happening...if people would understand the traffic laws it would be less of a problem. The whole thing is a disaster. It is so stressful to drive through there, I have to do it every day. What a mess.
Roger December 22, 2013 at 09:20 PM
In the last two days I have seen a car twice stop in the middle of the intersection and wait for a full cycle of the signal. Users used to stop in the middle, so I guess they feel they can now if the signal turns red while they are in the middle. That never happens at Grant because it was never the past practice there.
Hopkin February 20, 2014 at 09:14 AM
I hate this intersection now, and avoid it when feasible. Since eastbound and westbound each get their own separate turn to go now, it takes forever to do a complete cycle. I imagine this might encourage people to take a chance on running the red if it means they won't have to sit through it all. And people already do that all the time at Redwood@Grant.
Allen February 21, 2014 at 12:25 AM
Does anyone know what the impetus was for adding the light? Or even changing it from the original 2-way stop?
Hopkin March 14, 2014 at 03:36 AM
After coming across this article ~~~~~~~~ http://millvalley.patch.com/groups/obligatory-obloquy/p/occupy-tam-junction ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I left the comment that can be seen there. Olive @ Redwood and South Novato @ Diablo are especially bad now, with the light cycling taking forever and it seems like the timings were recently changed so that the directions which get the fewest cars are given more green light time than the directions which need it more. NNW-bound Novato Blvd, I'm looking at you!
Allen March 27, 2014 at 11:24 PM
It seems the current light sequence leaves traffic backed up on the Olive axis. I believe the turn arrows were added to accommodate the people who complained that that they couldn't make a left turn onto Redwood. I guess there's some kind of justice there.
Hopkin March 28, 2014 at 02:47 AM
It's so bad that pedestrians don't wait for the light to cross Redwood. Saw someone just tonight almost get hit. It doesn't help when they are in all dark clothing.

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