U-Turn Ban Creates Traffic and Safety Problems


New restrictions make all traffic flow directly through Moraga Way, the only convenient road for students coming from downtown Orinda.

Jordan Nevares, Staff Writer

It is 7:45 a.m. on Moraga Way.  Engines are idling and tensions are rising at the stoplight near Del Rey. Anxious drivers grasp their steering wheels.  Traffic has come to a grinding halt.
Morning traffic has never been worse on Moraga Way, the road most Miramonte, OIS, and Del Rey students travel on their school commute.  Cars are backed up bumper-to-bumper from Ivy Drive to Miramonte High School every morning.

Traffic has gotten considerably worse since the U-turn ban on Southwaite Court took effect on Jan. 24.  As a result, students have been looking for new, and potentially more dangerous ways, to avoid the traffic.  One shortcut emerging as a popular route among students is the Valley View Dr. and Woodland Rd. turnoff from Moraga Way.  These streets recirculate traffic from Moraga Way, allowing students to miss a particularly busy part of the road on the morning commute.

Residents near Ivy Drive support the current ordinance, contending that their children’s safety lies in the preservation of the left turn ban.  But this is hard to believe when students at Orinda Intermediate School start 45 minutes later than Miramonte, when the worst of the traffic has subsided.

It is time to lift the left turn ban on Ivy Drive.  Miramonte students have coped with an inadequate ordinance that increases traffic on Moraga Way.  Worse yet, it has not increased safety in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The left turn is a nuisance for daily commuters, and it creates a hazard for Del Rey students who walk to school while traffic pours through the elementary school neighborhood.

Not only does the Valley View Dr. shortcut put kids in danger, it also cycles traffic back to Moraga Way.  This adds to the traffic at the Moraga Way/El Camino Moraga stoplight, where traffic backs up all the way to the Ivy Drive turn.  This is not as big of a problem on Ivy Drive, because this route takes students directly to Miramonte from the left turn off Moraga Way.

Senior Peter Grover leaves his house at 7:30 a.m. and commutes on Moraga Way.  He arrives late to school nearly every morning now that police enforce the U-turn ban.  “I’ve been late every day since the ban, but before then I was on time.”  He often finds himself racing through shortcuts like many other Miramonte students trying to make it to school on time.

Of all the streets that should have a no turn ban, Valley View Drive and its intersecting street Woodland Road are most deserving of one.  At the very least, the City Council should ban turning on these two streets, and allow commuters to use Ivy Drive instead.  This would make it safer for children who are in harm’s way due to aggressive drivers who rush through these roads, avoiding the Ivy ban.

City Council should pursue a resolution that will not only make it safer for neighborhoods around Ivy Drive, but will also cut down on the traffic.  Various proposals have been put forth,  such as a later start time for Miramonte, but this would conflict with the Orinda Intermediate School schedule that starts 45 minutes later.

For students who come from the downtown area, Moraga Way is the only road that provides a direct route to Miramonte.  Therefore, we must ensure that the traffic flows as smoothly as possible through this road.  Orinda must listen to voices of both commuters and residents in order to create a sustainable traffic solution.