After more than a decade of requests from residents, Orange County Supervisors last week went against a recommendation from county staff and approved a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Jackson Street and Bishop Avenue in Midway City.
The vote at the March 22 meeting was 4-1, with Supervisor Shawn Nelson voting no, to approve the addition of two stop signs to the intersection.
Complaints about the small intersection have largely come from the Elmore Toyota dealership on Beach Boulevard in Westminster, which first raised the issue in 2004. The request for an all-way stop sign has come before the county twice before.
The area around Jackson Street at Bishop Avenue is a mixed-use neighborhood that includes service centers, small businesses, a mobile home park, apartments, and an elementary school.
Westminster traffic engineers say the main issue is confusion among drivers unfamiliar with the area, who often use Jackson Street as a shortcut to avoid Beach Boulevard, one of the busiest roads in the county.
City officials also pointed to the testimony of a California Highway Patrol officer who has patrolled the area for the past three years and supported the request for all-way stop signs, citing speeding issues.
Because Midway City is an unincorporated county area, authority to add the stop signs lies with the county supervisors.
County staff have said that traffic volumes and accident data for the two streets are far below the recommended threshold to add all-way stop signs to an intersection.
Over the past five years, there have been no reported collisions at the intersection. The California Manual of Uniform Traffic Control, meanwhile, has a standard of 5 accidents over a 12 month period before a four-way stop is warranted, according to a staff memo.
Most traffic along Jackson Street was between 29 and 33 miles per hour, according to speed data collected by county staff over a 48-hour period in March 2016.
County staff have also claimed that, because the intersection does not meet the minimum recommended threshold set by the state, motorists could challenge tickets given at that intersection by claiming that the stop signs are not enforceable, a claim that Westminster officials dispute.
Westminster traffic engineer Adolfo Ozaeta argued that the threshold is no more than a guideline for engineers and other factors, such as human experience, should also be taken into account.
“Once it’s approved by the board and installed…it’s completely enforceable,” Ozaeta told supervisors at a March 15 meeting.
Supervisor Andrew Do, who represents Midway City, said at the March 22 meeting that despite the lack of accidents on the street, the testimony of residents and city traffic engineers should justify action.
“Based on people who live there, and work there, and law enforcement that patrol the area, this is an area where waiting to act can have very serious repercussions,” said Do. “I don’t think we should wait until something serious happens before we act.”
Nelson questioned why the city has not pursued other traffic interventions, such as a flashing crosswalk, to slow down speeds before asking for all-way stop signs and exposing the county to liability issues.
“I don’t want to complicate this because it’s just some side street with a 25 mile-per-hour speed,” said Nelson. “But there are many other solutions…I’m just asking that we consider them.”
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