MONTCLARION: April 4, 2019
It’s a lousy time to be a motorist in Montclair. Bikers aren’t fairing any better. Between the closed roads and potholes, our arteries are so clogged, only a miracle can save us.
It’s not an exaggeration to say lives are at stake. With the city rollout of a social justice-based pothole plan, hills streets will get just a third of what flatland roads get for repairs. Yet our risk of wildfires is many times greater than that of our neighbors below us, and crumbling roads make any evacuation more dangerous.
Reader Mike Cameron expresses the frustration of many when he writes that “People in the hills should not be penalized for having higher incomes. Montclair Village shopping area streets are awful and embarrassing.” Cameron, like the rest of hills residents, have been waiting years for their roads to be repaired and most are not listed on the new three-year paving plan.
Adding to the frustration, Shepherd Canyon Road is down to one lane for at least several weeks, forcing east-bound drivers on a winding detour through already impacted streets. And westbound drivers use Shepherd Canyon at their own risk at night. I was almost hit head-on by a motorist who went around the detour and forced a standoff in my lane.
Meanwhile, neighbors on Colton say their street has become a racetrack as cars navigate past the long-shuttered section of Snake Road that was compromised in an arson fire back in late 2016. That’s right — 2016!
Back to potholes — maybe it’s time for radical solutions. Some cities are hiring private contractors, who can repair a pothole in 30 minutes with just two workers. England’s University of Leeds is developing a fleet of pothole repair drones. Whatever the solution, I’m tired of hearing how Oakland is an innovator — a leader in so many areas. When it comes to road repairs, we’re no better off than some of the poorest countries in the developed world. It’s time to let our elected officials know that.
Around town: Our District 4 councilperson, Shenzhen Thao, will talk about our streets at a Sunday, April 7 open-air dinner from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Montclair’s Antioch Court. There’ll also be live music, adult beverages and kid’s activities at the fundraiser for Montclair street improvements and the Antioch Court plaza concept. Buy tickets and see the plan at http://montclairvillage.com/antioch-court-improvement-plan.
Somber sighting: Amid the inspiring views and the thoughtlessly discarded cans and bottles is a somber reminder that the Grizzly Peak cliffs can be dangerous. A small wooden cross has been erected at one of the pulloffs where young people congregate, a tribute to someone deceased. At the foot of the shrine are artificial flowers, candles and empty bottles of alcohol. Nothing more is known.