Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Case Study No. 73

Crossing Islands

Eureka, California

Prepared by Sheila Parrott, City of Eureka Engineering Department.


Improvements were needed to enhance pedestrian safety and reduce collisions at an intersection in Eureka, California.


Temporary traffic control in place on Myrtle Avenue at 6th Street.

Myrtle Avenue in Eureka, California, is a wide street measuring 70 ft with three lanes of traffic, two lanes in each direction and one two-way left turn lane and no marked crosswalks. Sixth Street entered Myrtle Avenue at an odd angle, and Myrtle Avenue had a horizontal curve that required motorists to enter traffic quickly and abruptly. Consequently, the intersection of Myrtle and 6th Streets was avoided by pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Following the realignment of a portion of State Highway 101, which formed part of an adjacent intersection, the nearby intersection of 6th Street and Myrtle Avenue began to exhibit operational deficiencies due to more traffic being rerouted to this intersection. An increase in the number of reported collisions involving bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles at the intersection was noted by City staff, residents, and, ultimately, the local press, who deemed it the most dangerous intersection in the city.


Completed median with pedestrian refuge and pedestrian activated LED signs.

As a result of the safety concerns, an intersection improvement project was initiated in cooperation with the California Department of Transportation and the bicycling community to address deficiencies, reduce conflicts, and enhance safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists at the intersection. A series of temporary traffic controls, including signage, barricades, and traffic cones, were used to test the prohibition of through vehicle traffic prior to construction. The temporary traffic controls were installed in December 2007 and remained in place until construction began in August 2008. During that time period, no collisions were reported at the intersection.

Following the temporary measures, the City of Eureka installed a median island with a pedestrian/bicycle refuge and crosswalk that prohibits vehicular southbound left turns and through movements across Myrtle Avenue. By preventing through vehicle traffic across Myrtle Avenue, the City hoped to better accommodate and encourage bicycle traffic. Two additional islands on each side of Myrtle Avenue at 6th Street channel vehicles into their respective lanes and provide refuge for pedestrians. Additional street lighting and pedestrian-activated LED signs were added for increased pedestrian visibility. A new school facility and multi-family housing on 6th Street added increased pedestrian presence.


The project at 6th Street and Myrtle Avenue addresses operational deficiencies, reduces conflicts and enhances safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. While the intersection of 6th Street and Myrtle Avenue had the highest collision rate of all city intersections in 2007, no pedestrian, bicycle or vehicle collisions have been reported at this intersection since the project was completed in 2009. A new school facility, business and multi-family housing on 6th Street added new foot traffic and activity, without increasing crashes.


Sheila Parrott
Project Manager, City of Eureka
531 K Street
Eureka, CA 95501
Phone: (707) 441-4350
Fax: (707) 441-4202