Exeter looks to community for Kaweah Ave redesign

Looking south from Kaweah Ave and San Juan Ave.(Kenny Goodman)

The city works on redesigning Kaweah Avenue; community members share their concerns, experiences about the roadway’s safety

EXETER – The city is revamping Kaweah Avenue with the help of community members, who shared their experiences with the dangers of crossing the street in a recent survey.

Exeter is working on designs for the roadwork on Kaweah Avenue based on community feedback, which was gathered through a community survey streetstory.berkley.edu. The people of Exeter were open about the issues they encountered on Kaweah Avenue, and out of the reports from the community feedback, 55% reported safety hazards, 20% reported spots of near-miss accidents and 8% were spots of reported crashes.

Looking north along Kaweah Ave. near the “Exeter” redwood sign donated in 1959 by Steve Lynch. (Kenny Goodman)

According to the report, the top reasons given for crashes and hazards were speeding, failure to yield for pedestrians, as well as signs, signals or markings not working and/or missing.

The overall main concern noted by community members seemed to be around the five crosswalks on Kaweah Avenue. Respondents said drivers don’t stop for people to cross the street. Many of the community members noted how close to the local schools all of these crosswalks are and that many of the community’s children use those crosswalks.

Some community members even shared their own personal experiences with accidents and potential accidents. One community member shared their experience of being hit by a car at a crosswalk at the intersection of Sequoia Drive and Kaweah Avenue while the pedestrian crossing lights were flashing.

“The car driving north came to a full stop, so I thought it was safe to proceed. However, the car traveling south, I did not see…Within seconds that car hit me out of nowhere and I went flying about 30 feet and landed somewhere near the adjacent park. … Paramedics came to take me to Kaweah Delta Hospital and I was in a deep state of coma for 3 weeks,” a community member said in their survey response.

Multiple other reports were made explaining that many of them have witnessed accidents or were almost hit while crossing the street with their kids. Multiple reports mention that there is not enough visibility to tell when it is safe to cross the street.

Kaweah Ave and Rockyhill Dr. looking toward the water tower across from Exeter High School. (Kenny Goodman)

“My son was riding his bike across (Kaweah Avenue) on Palm Drive, and four cars stopped for him to cross, but a car about five cars back decided to try to pass, on the right hand side, and almost hit my son,” another community member reported.

Another main concern in Kaweah according to the reports is that drivers speed down the street and do not respect the school zones which makes the crosswalks even more dangerous. 

While the project is underway, Exeter City Council voted to install radar speed signs until the road work is done to encourage drivers to slow down as they approach the construction. The new signs will cost around $150,000 in state funding before they start investing in roadwork.

According to City Manager Adam Ennis, the city has $1.5 million dollars from the State Highway 65 Measure 1 funding set aside to do the road improvements on Kaweah Avenue.

For the project’s progression right now, Ennis said a Caltrans engineer is trying to design the necessary roadwork and road configurations using community feedback and traffic data while staying within budget.

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