For Pleasanton resident Leslie Thompson, getting cut off while driving near the Pimlico Drive and Santa Rita Road intersection is practically a daily occurrence.
“Cars mistakenly get onto the furthest right lane, which immediately turns into the freeway,” said Thompson.
However, according to Sgt. Bob Leong, traffic supervisor of the Pleasanton Police Department, the signs posted in the intersection clearly indicate the right lane goes onto the eastbound ramp for the Interstate 580 freeway.
“It’s the driver’s responsibility to look at those signs,” he said.
Nonetheless, Berkeley resident Estella Sim said the signs should provide a clearer warning.
“When I first used this intersection, I had no idea the turn into the freeway would be so sudden,” Sim said. “And if there’s oncoming traffic on your left, you have like three seconds to switch lanes without practically swiping the car next to you.”
And it’s close calls like these that Thompson worries may one day be fatal.
“I have not seen any accidents yet, but I have seen many waiting to happen.”
Despite the signs, Thompson said drivers often honk at him to turn right because they are unaware of the signs.
Eric Kurz, the traffic engineering technician for the city of Pleasanton, often visits the intersection to make sure the signs are visible. He said drivers are to blame for the near misses.
“It’s people not familiar with the area or (who) just don’t care about the signs,” he said. “Based on our collision data, I do see collisions in this area, but not pertaining to the signs.”
After being with the traffic unit for almost 12 years, Leong says that he has only heard of a handful of accidents in the area despite the heavy congestion. He could not confirm if the accidents were related to the red lights or signs. The intersection is one of nine heavily congested areas in Pleasanton at which police use a handheld device known as the MOLE to crack down on red -light violators.
Thompson, who has lived in the area for years, said the off-ramp and extra right turn lane were added about seven years ago to accommodate Pleasanton’s growing population.
When , McDonald’s and the Shell gas station arrived, the roads became heavily congested. And before he knew it, “no right turn on red” signs began popping up all over the intersection.
“One sign was out there for quite some time, but then it seemed like overnight, two more appeared,” Thompson said. “And they seem to keep getting closer and closer (to the oncoming traffic on Pimlico Drive).”
Thompson said that about 5 p.m., when the sun is in drivers' eyes, the signs are hard to see. He suggested making the signs electronic or a bright red color to make them easier to see.
Kurz said there are no plans to change the off-ramp, the signs or the intersection, which is owned by Caltrans.