Gregory and Elinora Intersection Project

Gregory and Elinora Intersection

Residents of Pleasant Hill have long been wary of the intersection of Gregory Lane and Elinora Drive. This location has been the site of far too many close calls and accidents. Based on recent data obtained from the city of Pleasant Hill, these crashes largely occur when drivers make left turns, either from Elinora Drive to Gregory Lane or from Gregory onto Elinora. 

Gregory and Elinora is just one of many dangerous intersections across the region. While the city of Pleasant Hill plans to make safety improvements to this intersection, there are many other “hot spots” for crashes in and around the city. 

Why Is This Intersection So Dangerous?

As an arterial road, Gregory Lane is designed to carry traffic between areas of the city and to connect to the freeway system. It is a four-lane road that currently has five traffic lights located at Contra Costa Boulevard, Cleaveland Road, Moiso Lane, Helen Road, and Pleasant Hill Road. If you are unfamiliar with Elinora Drive, it sits on a half-mile stretch of road between the lights at Moiso Lane and Helen Road near Downtown Pleasant Hill. We’ve identified several predominant issues that local drivers experience when navigating this local intersection.  

Issue No. 1 – Exiting Gregory Gardens 

Residents in Gregory Gardens currently experience difficulty and delay at this intersection when exiting Elinora Drive onto Gregory Lane during the morning school and commute hours. At times, there can be a lengthy backup of vehicles Elinora as there is only a single line. Vehicles attempting to turn left have to safely navigate and cross two lanes vehicular traffic traveling in the opposite direction at high speeds along Gregory Lane (35 mph) while also watching out of pedestrian/bike traffic in both directions. 

Issue No. 2 – Turning Left into Gregory Gardens 

Residents in Gregory Gardens also experience difficulty at this intersection when attempting to exit Gregory Lane and turn left onto Elinora Drive. Due to the high traffic volume, drivers attempting to turn left into the neighborhood often have to patiently wait for a safe opportunity to cross two lanes of traffic traveling in the opposite direction. Because there is not a designated left hand turn lane, drivers often must come to a complete stop on Gregory Lane and hope that drivers behind them will notice that they are turning left and slow down or change lanes. Often drivers can feel like sitting ducks with cars quickly whizzing by them in both directions and nowhere to go. 

According to a 2000 traffic study, the daily traffic volume of Gregory Lane at Elinora Drive is 17,076 vehicles. It is the most heavily traveled portion of Gregory Lane. Without a stoplight, it is little wonder that so many motor vehicle accidents happen at this intersection.

What the Crash Data Reveals

Since 2015, there have been 12 reported accidents at or near the intersection of Gregory Lane and Elinora Drive. Importantly, this number is likely lower than the actual total number of accidents that have happened in this area in this time frame. Under California law, only accidents that involve property damage of over $1,000 ($750 before 2017), an injury, or a fatality must be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

The majority — 75% — of these crashes happened when a driver was attempting to make a left turn. Two accidents involved a driver hitting a parked car on Gregory Lane at night. One collision occurred when a driver changed lanes on Gregory and hit a car in the next lane when doing so.

The collisions involving left turns happened in one of two ways: a driver attempted to turn left onto Gregory Lane from Elinora Drive (5 crashes) or tried to make a left turn from Gregory Lane onto Elinora Drive (4 accidents). Each of these wrecks happened in clear, dry weather, with plenty of sun. Most of the accidents occurred during the morning or early afternoon, with two incidents occurring in the early evening, around 6 p.m.

In the 12 accidents recorded, 9 people were injured. The vehicles involved often suffered major damage, with a tow truck required to remove vehicles from the scene in 75% of the accidents. In the majority of these collisions, the driver attempting the left turn was cited for violating California Vehicle Code, failure to yield right of way when making a left turn.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 40% of all crashes in the United States occur at intersections. Left turns account for 22% of all accidents studied. There are many possible causes of left-turn accidents, including inadequate surveillance, external distraction, misjudging a gap or other’s speed, and turning with an obstructed view. Per the NHTSA’s nationwide crash analysis, when there is not a traffic light or stop sign at an intersection, there is a far greater chance that these factors will lead to an accident than when there is a traffic control device of some sort. A traffic signal installed at the intersection of Gregory and Elinora will likely help to reduce the risk that an obstructed view, failure to look, inattention, or misjudgment will lead to a crash.

A Solution on the Horizon

Fortunately, the city of Pleasant Hill has taken notice of the dangers of this intersection and has responded to local residents’ concerns. For the past several years the City has been obtaining the necessary funding and designing a new traffic signal at the intersection of Gregory Lane and Elinora Drive in order to enhance safety for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians at this intersection. Most recently, in February 2020, the City Council awarded a contract for the installation of a traffic signal to St. Francis Electric. 

This project will include a new traffic signal, as well as a high visibility pedestrian crosswalk, curb ramps that are compliant with the ADA, sidewalks, curb extensions, gutters, and minor landscaping. Construction will begin this summer, with an anticipated completion date of fall 2020.

The traffic light itself should significantly increase safety along this corridor, particularly as it will allow drivers to safely make left turns from either street. It will also provide a controlled crossing location for students at Sequoia Elementary and Middle schools and Strandwood Elementary School. In addition, the curb extensions will make pedestrians more visible to motorists and will tighten the intersection to encourage slower speeds.

Hurt in an Accident? We Can Help.

The coming installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Gregory and Elinora is fantastic news and should increase the safety of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists alike. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are far too common in Pleasant Hill and other communities in our area. If you have been hurt in a car accident, you may be able to file a claim against the other driver for your damages.

At Appel Law Firm LLP, we are dedicated to helping Bay Area residents who have been hurt in all types of accidents. We aggressively advocate for each of our clients, so that they can focus on getting their lives back on track after a collision. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, call (925) 938-2000 or email us at any time.

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