By Len Ramirez

MENLO PARK (KPIX 5) — A popular shortcut through a peninsula neighborhood has been cut off as police cracked down on enforcing newly restricted turns.

Hundreds of drivers have been using the Willows neighborhood in Menlo Park to avoid nearby construction and get to the Bayshore Freeway faster.

Despite numerous warning signs restricting turns in the afternoon, drivers still used side streets to cut onto Willow Road.

On Monday, a few who made the turn also got a ticket.

“There was a grace period, but now that the signs are up we’re enforcing the no right turn onto Willow Road,” said Menlo Park Police Officer Matt Castillo.

It’s one of the Peninsula’s worst traffic hotspots, only made worse by a massive construction project to modernize the interchange of Willow and Highway 101.

Neighbors in the neighborhood say cars constantly cut through their narrow streets to shave a few minutes off their commute.

“The intolerable part is the number of cars compared to how it used to be and how fast they come through,” said area resident Jack Morris. “People would have to park three, four or five blocks away and walk home.”

Neighbor Diane Baxter said her street would be a solid traffic jam for four hours.

“Everyone was beeping. This road was completely impacted, that road was completely impacted,” said Baxter. “No one was going anywhere.”

The new traffic restrictions make it illegal to turn right from Chester, Durham and O’Keefe to Willow Road between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays.

There are also no left turns from Woodland to Baywood during the same time window on weekdays.

Neighbors say despite the few still trying to sneak a turn, the new traffic rules and enforcement have helped.

“Because of the signs they put up, people do not come down here anymore” said Baxter.

While the enforcement has gotten rid of the neighborhood traffic jams, residents said one drawback is that they too aren’t allowed to make the restricted turn, which can add some time to their trips to get on the freeway as well.

  1. Before these signs went into place it was impossible to get down our own streets and into our driveways or to get out of our driveways because of the line of unmoving traffic that could block us. Other streets also had a problem with speeders trying to get to Durham, Chester and O’Keefe to get onto Willow. People also ran stop signs on a regular basis. With the restrictions in place the back up on the three streets is virtually non-existant. We don’t have the cars blocking us in or honking at other cars. My vehicle was also hit twice in a week by hit and run drivers while parked on the street in front of my home. The people that hit me were trying to squeeze between the line of cars heading toward Willow on a street not meant for such traffic.

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