Photo: Charlotte May Gonzalez, 7, holds up a sign during a silent protest by Friends for a Safe Pershing Avenue. The group seeks to reduce speeders along Pershing Avenue off the I-5 off-ramp. (JAY MICHAEL RIVERA/CONTRIBUTOR)
Few people understand the impact of speeders along the Interstate 5/Pershing Avenue off ramp more than one Stockton resident.
Barbara Kilian, 79, who lives on North Pershing Ave., has had five cars land on her residence in the 11 years she has lived there.
“Five times I’ve heard a car crash, open my door and there’s a car on the stairs,” said Kilian. “I’m afraid one day it’ll be my own bedroom and not my front stairs.”
Kilian joined about a dozen other members of Friends for a Safe Pershing Avenue in a silent protest at the intersection of West Flora Street and Pershing Avenue, in front of Kilian’s home, on recently over concerns of speeders, accidents, and big rig traffic along the corridor.
Formed in 2020 by resident Miguel Guillen, the organization seeks “bigger actions versus a Band-Aid approach,” regarding the Pershing Avenue corridor adjacent to the Interstate 5 offramp.
“The bottom line is that residents on the east side of Pershing cannot get safely to Victory Park,” said Katya Evanhoe, a Victory Park neighborhood resident and organization member.
The community group met with Caltrans officials in October of 2021 to express their concerns.
As a result of the meeting, “quite a few elements were put in relatively quickly” to improve traffic and pedestrian safety, said Skip Allum, Caltrans public information officer.
The improvements include:
- The removal of an existing “40 MPH” speed sign in the right shoulder at the start of the off-ramp.
- The installation of a “30 MPH Ahead” pavement marking on the roadway surface of the off-ramp next to the “30 Zone Ahead” sign.
Caltrans workers will also install solar powered flashing red lights with yield signs on the poles, pending reviews and approvals from Caltrans officials, Allum said.
But traffic calming measures can only do so much.
“This is essentially a motor behavior concern,” Allum said. “If speed limit signs can’t do it, then it becomes a traffic concern for the City of Stockton.”
Traffic and speeding mitigation measures aren’t enough for Friends for a Safe Pershing Avenue, who are calling for the off ramp to be shut down.
“This exit should have never been built,” said Evanhoe, adding that it is the only exit in the Stockton area without a stop sign or a traffic signal. “This is a neighborhood, but it’s been turned into a highway offramp. There’s no excuse.”
The community organizers may get their wish. A new project, scheduled to begin in January of 2026, will replace the northbound and southbound Stockton Channel viaduct bridges at Highway 4. As part of the project, Caltrans workers will “realign” the existing Pershing Avenue exit to have a u-shaped turn with “traffic calming measures” instead of the existing sweeping long transition, Allum said.
Friends for a Safe Pershing Avenue have also met with the City of Stockton over the years, resulting increased speeding enforcement, larger than normal speed limit signs, a solar-powered speed reminder sign, installed in April, and increased time for the crosswalk at Picardy Drive and Pershing Avenue, programmed in January, said Connie Cochran, public information officer for the City of Stockton.