Traffic Safety is an important focus area with a number of safety projects and initiatives underway; a few are summarized below. A plan is currently being developed to identify the areas with the most severe collisions and forming countermeasures to address. We will also be kicking off a project to update the traffic calming program in June and will be holding a series of community workshops as part of the work. The Police Department is rebuilding their traffic enforcement unit and working to increase efficiency through new technology integration. Public Works engineering staff is including traffic safety elements within the Capital Improvement Program projects as part of bikeway projects and by addressing improved pedestrian and bicycle accommodations within street rehabilitation projects. The City is collaborating with NVTA and the County on a grant application for a major project to improve bike and pedestrian facilities along Imola Avenue. The City also recently applied for two grants to fund additional pedestrian beacons installation. The Local Roadway Safety plan will prepare us for additional traffic safety funding grant applications this fall. The sections below provide additional details on the traffic safety initiatives.
- Increased Traffic Enforcement
- Local Roadway Safety Plan
- Traffic Calming Program
- Traffic Safety Elements of Recent and Current Projects
- Traffic Safety Maintenance
Traffic enforcement is one component of the standard “three E’s” law enforcement and transportation engineering disciplines prioritized for improving traffic safety. Education and engineering are the other two. Emergency services, empowerment, and engagement are also sometimes included in addition to the “three E’s.”
In 2020, with many staffing vacancies, fewer drivers on the road, and reduced non-emergency public contact to preserve the health and safety of our workforce during the start of the pandemic, traffic enforcement activities were very limited. The Police Department is rebuilding the traffic enforcement unit and has recently been able to assign a new traffic sergeant and two motor officers. In 2021, 3,749 traffic stops were made with 2,087 citations issued. Through mid-May 2022, 1,951 traffic stops were made with 1,258 citations issued to date. It is important to recognize that the goal of traffic enforcement is to change behavior and that traffic stops, as well as citations, advance the goal of improved compliance for safety.
In addition to the added staffing resources, in the upcoming year, the Police Department is committed to:
- Developing a Request for Proposals to reinitiate a Red-Light Enforcement Program
- Applying for a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to fund additional enforcement, equipment, and community outreach
- Updating the collision reporting software for more accurate data
- Issuing handheld electronic ticket writing software to officers
- Increasing the social media outreach for traffic safety
- Identifying future technologies and best practices to educate the public and increase enforcement presence
- Hiring new officers
The City is wrapping up the Local Roadway Safety Plan development this summer. The work takes a data driven approach to improve traffic safety by analyzing collision data to identify the intersections and corridors in the most need of improvements. By applying traffic engineering principles and expertise, the plan will define measures for traffic safety improvement projects at locations prioritized through the safety analysis. The plan will allow for the City to compete for traffic safety grants to accomplish projects documented in the plan. The Local Roadway Safety Plan is scheduled for presentation to the City Council in July.
The Local Roadway Safety Plan will develop a Vision Zero Policy framework that will be further developed in collaboration with NVTA. Vision Zero initiatives are defined as strategies to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. NVTA will coordinate efforts to establish a countywide Vision Zero Plan. The effort will establish Vision Zero policies and programs in each jurisdiction that are context sensitive to community needs.
The Local Roadway Safety Plan is not a traffic calming plan. An additional project to develop a Traffic Calming Program will begin in June. The Local Roadway Safety Plan takes a broader approach to traffic safety throughout the entire community. The plan identifies the areas within the community with the largest number of severe accidents and develops counter measures to address the specific locations. Traffic calming measures will be proposed as part of the countermeasures to address areas with the most severe collision history.
The project team is grateful for community participation on the Local Roadway Safety Plan. The City received over 500 comments through our project website from community members reporting their traffic safety concerns. The website (www.cityofnapa.org/roadwaysafetyplan) will continue to accept comments through June 5th. We also appreciate our partners from our stakeholders’ group which includes representatives from Slow Down Napa, Public Works Department, Police Department, Fire Department, Napa Valley Transportation Authority, Napa County Bicycle Coalition, Napa Valley Unified School District, Napa Valley Vine Trail, Visit Napa Valley, Downtown Napa Association, and the Chamber of Commerce.
Public Works engineering staff has developed the scope of work to create a Traffic Calming Program. The work is anticipated to begin in June and will be completed under contract with a traffic engineering firm with extensive experience working with local agencies within the Bay Area and beyond. The City’s existing guidelines are more than 15 years old and do not meet the needs and expectations of the community and staff. The upcoming work will have an extremely high level of community engagement as the foundation of the planning. A series of three workshops will be held to focus on five different geographic areas of the city, for a total of 15 workshops. All materials and workshops will support participation in Spanish.
The first workshop will start with the purpose and need of the study, the project scope, schedule, and traffic calming overview. This workshop will then be a listening session with break-out sessions and activities to gain information regarding community concerns related to traffic safety. Some of the anticipated topics include speeding, lack of visibility, cut through traffic, truck traffic, etc. The second workshop will present a summary of the project goals, work completed, community input, and a matrix of stated concerns with potential countermeasures. This workshop will also include smaller group activities for brainstorming and ranking of potential solutions. The final workshop will include a summary of input regarding solutions and strategies. This workshop will also present the proposed traffic calming measures, policies, and guidelines toolbox to be incorporated into the traffic calming program.
As part of the work, the traffic engineering team will examine successful traffic calming programs from other cities, applications of practices and policies, best practice recommendations from professional publications, and concerns submitted in the past from Napa community members, in addition to concerns submitted as part of the current effort.
The main work product will be a Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program: Policies, Guidelines, and Toolbox that is adopted by the City Council. The program will include strategies to address traffic calming through engineering, education, enforcement, and empowerment and policies and guidelines for the application of each. The analysis will include pros and cons of each strategy. The program will include a procedure for community members to submit proposed projects, criteria for engineering studies to determine appropriate measures, and forms and petitions to document neighborhood support of proposed projects. This work effort will also develop traffic safety education brochures on up to five topics.
Through the extensive outreach opportunities during the program development, the proposed Traffic Calming Program will provide a catalog of locally supported strategies and measures to address speeding and other traffic safety concerns within the community. The program will provide the process for community members to initiate future project requests. These adopted measures will also be employed to make traffic safety improvements as part of roadway rehabilitation projects and used to develop projects in areas identified in the most need of improvements through the analysis of severe collisions within the City.
The Capital Improvement Program is comprised of large projects to construct or repair public facilities. Safety enhancements are prioritized as part of these projects. Some examples of recent and current projects improving traffic safety include:
- Napa Valley Vine Trail Soscol Gap Closure Project (complete)
- State Route 29 Trail Undercrossing Project (in final design)
- Soscol Avenue Rehabilitation—widened bike lanes, narrowed vehicle lanes, and striping improvements (complete)
- Pedestrian Flashing Beacon Program—six currently in design for installation at Vine Trail crossings and many installed near schools and high pedestrian areas (on-going)
- Trancas Avenue Rehabilitation—improved striping and bicycle facilities (complete)
- Trower Avenue Rehabilitation—improved bike striping and improved crossing (complete)
- New Traffic Signal at Soscol/Old Soscol Intersection (complete)
- Signal Upgrades at Main/Lincoln Intersection (complete)
- Signal Synchronization Upgrades on Jefferson Street (in construction)
- Utility Undergrounding Project on Jefferson Street (design complete)
- Laurel Street Rehabilitation—narrowing vehicle lanes, curb extensions, bike and crossing improvement (in design)
- Jefferson Street Rehabilitation (Sierra to Trower)—striping, pedestrian, and bike improvements (in design)
The Public Works streets crews repair and address aging infrastructure throughout the City. These crews attend to traffic signals, lighting, striping, signing, potholes, debris, dead animals, paving, sidewalk repairs, downtown cleaning, parking garage cleaning, and more. Community service requests and City projects are planned based on work type, project size, location, and season when applicable. For example, storm drains are cleaned in the fall to remove accumulated debris before the rainy season. Striping maintenance and paving are completed in the late spring through early fall to comply with minimum temperature requirements. Work requests are organized for efficiency by scheduling like work within a particular area together. One of the highest priorities each year is the traffic safety maintenance in our school zones. As schools close for the summer, resources will be assigned to evaluate and update signing and striping within school zones. On-going maintenance is an important component of our traffic safety programs but due to the seasonality and quantity of work, requests do take time, sometimes months or more, to complete.