The dozens of orange safety cones that now populate a stretch of Mission Boulevard between Highway 12 and Randall Lane are a welcome sight for some residents of this east Santa Rosa neighborhood, who have long complained about speed devils.
About a year ago, a young man was struck and killed by a vehicle as he crossed Mission Boulevard from the east side of the thoroughfare. But now, work is being done that could both slow traffic and make it safer to cross Mission.
The crosswalk is being moved to the south end of the "T" intersection of Mission and Randall and the entire southern section of Mission Boulevard is being "re-striped" into a two-lane road with bicycle lanes, similar to the configuration on the north end of the roadway.
"People are just going way too fast on that road. Hopefully that will help," said Annette Yadon, who has lived in the neighborhood for seven years with her two children and one grandson.
Yadon sometimes avoids driving onto Mission from the Randall Lane intersection because speeding traffic makes it too dangerous. She takes an alternate route via Prospect Avenue and Sherbrook Drive, she said.
Eleven months ago, a fatal traffic accident spurred some neighborhood residents to call for more safety measures.
On Oct. 21, Alejandro Torres, 24, stepped into the crosswalk and was hit by a passing car. He was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with head injuries and died the following morning.
After his death, Alejandro Sotres, a pastor at The Bridge Community Church in Sebastopol, began collecting signatures on a petition aimed at encouraging city officials to make the crosswalk safer. Yadon said she was among those who signed the petition.
In February, Sotres and the newly formed Mission Boulevard Residents Association met with a supervising engineer for the city's traffic engineering division to discuss neighbors' concerns. The city informed residents it intended to make changes to the southern end of Mission that would improve safety.
Rick Moshier, the director of the city's public works department, said Thursday that the city had applied for a Caltrans grant to make improvements to the roadway months before the fatal accident.
Moshier said the northern end of Mission was re-striped from four lanes — two southbound and two northbound — to two lanes, one in each direction. That re-configuration came after the stretch of Mission Boulevard north of Sherbrook Drive was newly over-layed.
The southern stretch of Mission will not get an overlay but will get the same two-lane configuration as the north end, Moshier said. Also, the crosswalk — which previously ended at a curb, shrub and tree on the west end of Mission — is being moved south.
New sidewalks are being constructed on either side of Mission.
"This is something we wanted to do anyway," Moshier said. "We did that other one because of the overlay. We had applied for the grant on basic principles of wanting to get this done."
Regardless of the timing, Sotres said he believes the street work is in part a response to local residents' complaints.
"It's a very good thing the city is paying attention to the comments and the feedback that the people give to the city," he said.
Sotres and Yadon both said they hope the city will light the new crosswalk after the work is completed.