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Friday, January 18, 2013

Local roads make for a bunch of corner cases

Listening to police and fire dispatches over the past year or so has taught me quite a bit about Santa Clara's roads. There are quite a few quirks for a town that isn't really very big. Here are some of the ones I've managed to figure out one way or the other.

There's an Accolti Way which leads into SCU, and an Alcalde Street which is up by the new 49ers stadium. They look different when written, but think about what they sound like coming over the radio.

There's a Fillmore Street up by the new stadium and a Fillmore Street down by City Hall. They are separated by a couple of miles with many other things in between. Likewise, there's also a Palm Drive which leads into Oracle, and another Palm Drive which leads into SCU, also separated by a similar distance.

There's a Reed Street in two big pieces split by the railroad line which runs up to San Francisco. One piece is by City Hall. The other crosses the other railroad line which runs up to Alviso. It intersects several of the same streets as its buddy, Reeve Street, which is two blocks away. As a result, you almost always hear them dispatched as "Reed, D David" or "Reeve, V Victor". Failure to add the clarification almost always results in confusion.

To further add to the "Reed" mess, Monroe Street is very long in Santa Clara, but when it reaches Sunnyvale at Lawrence Expressway, it turns into ... Reed Avenue. A unit making a stop just inside Sunnyvale has to clarify "Reed, in Sunnyvale", because otherwise they might be talking about the other Reed, or the Reeve, both on the other side of town from there.

There's an entire neighborhood which is bounded by Lafayette, Hope, Tasman and Lick Mill, but it only exits onto Lafayette. Really. Go look. They have no other way in and out, and it's not just a bunch of condos. It's bunches of houses, a school, two parks, and more. You can't make it to Lick Mill unless you drive through one of the parks illegally.

There are three Laurelwoods which are split in a way where you can't just drive straight across from one to the other. One of them is a pointless little stub by Intel which shouldn't even be called that. Across Montague from that, there's another one of them which is a frontage road along 101. It's pretty big. Then there's a gap due to the railroad tracks, and still another piece is hidden in an office park off De La Cruz.

As long as I'm talking about De La Cruz, notice how it exists in Santa Clara, then it kind of stops by the airport, sort-of turns into Trimble, and then reappears on the other side of 101. You also go into San Jose and back out again while doing this. The signs on the freeway tell you to take a specific exit for De La Cruz, but there's another one on the other side and it's non-trivial to make U-turns in that general area.

The Alameda is split in half by SCU, as is Alviso Street. This happened back in the '80s from what I can tell when they wanted to get rid of traffic going through campus. Franklin Street is split in two by the Franklin Mall, and that happened after they bulldozed the "real downtown" in the '60s and never really replaced it.

Lafayette makes a weird swerve and turns into Washington for a couple of blocks, and then that turns into Bascom and dumps you into San Jose. Not far from that, Lincoln makes the same kind of swerve and turns into Winchester. At that point, there's a spot the Streets guys call "dead man's curve" where people keep taking out the street light pole.

Trouble is, there's also a fire hydrant a couple of feet from the light pole, so they usually both get snapped off at the same time. Now you have live wires and gushing water all over the place in addition to actual human patients and a car which ended up who knows where. This makes life interesting for emergency responders.

Bellomy Street has been chopped into bunches of tiny bits and pieces. It doesn't seem to make it to El Camino Real any more, but some maps would have you believe you can use it to get across there. Unless you're planning on driving on the grass, don't count on it.

There's a Newhall Drive which reaches Coleman in San Jose by the airport, and it'll take you to Newhall Street, but that Newhall Street won't take you to the Newhall Street in Santa Clara. The railroad cuts them in two.

In the same vein, the Brokaw Road in Santa Clara won't get you to the Brokaw Road in San Jose because someone went and built a couple of huge runways and an airport in the middle. Apparently some people wanted to connect them with a tunnel under the whole airport way back when but that obviously never happened.

Oakwood/Greenwood/Edgefield is a T intersection where a road changes names as it meets another. This isn't too interesting, but the fact that there are road signs for each possibility is. One corner has "Oakwood / Edgefield" and the other corner has "Greenwood / Edgefield". Police units giving the wrong one by chance tend to confuse dispatch since "those don't cross" on their map.

Also in the "fun with the spoken word" category, there's a Giannini Drive near the Cupertino border, a Gianera Street by the stadium site, and a Gianni Street hidden in that office park off De La Cruz (by one of the Laurelwood chunks).

Apparently, Cypress Ave has two 200 blocks in Santa Clara alone. If you go another block or two, you cross Stevens Creek and then you're in San Jose with its own set of numbers. There may be similar shenanigans on Winchester due to the city limits jumping back and forth.

In the general vicinity of where the Alameda reaches El Camino Real, there's a Camino Drive. Imagine what happens when someone calls it just "El Camino" and the "El" gets cut off by talking too soon after keying the mic or is squashed by static. Near there, there's a Morse Street, not to be confused with the Morse Lane which intersects El Camino Real out by San Tomas.

Finally, there's a Butcher Drive near Lawrence, but there's also a Bucher Avenue over by San Tomas.

These are the ones I've noticed and logged in my own snarky way. Perhaps documenting all of this will help someone out some day.