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Google is studying fire evacuation routes in Mill Valley

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Google’s computer program, which simulates the evacuation of wildfires in Mill Valley, provides a solution to alleviate traffic congestion in an emergency.

Researchers Yu Chen, Yusef Shafi, and Yi-Fan Chen compared Mill Valley infrastructure issues with a paradise town that was nearly leveled by a camp wildfire in 2018.

In their report, researchers built a traffic simulation to investigate ways to avoid bottlenecks in Paradise, which killed at least 85 people.

“We will apply the pipeline to two case studies in California,” the report said. “The first is Paradise …. The second is Mill Valley. The city is located in a narrow valley, which increases the risk of wildfires and potential traffic problems.”

With two main roads inside and outside Mill Valley and a population of about 14,000, emergency evacuation has been a top priority for many years.

The effort to get Google to use the city as a model was led by Deputy Mayor John McCaulejye. Deputy Mayor John McCaulejye said he had contacted Google’s chief financial officer to find out if tech giants would study large-scale evacuation plans in Mill Valley.

Virtual models have been developed to help the city develop better evacuation plans. This simulated 6,000 households in the city getting into a car and trying to escape from the city immediately.

According to a Google report, the number of simulated vehicles was 23,635 in Paradise and 12,212 in Mill Valley.

“As far as I know, this is the first time this kind of data has been developed,” said Macquarie. “And I’m excited to be chosen as the city to model this groundbreaking information.”

He said a study revealed that evacuation times could be reduced by an hour if residents had only one vehicle. He said the city would push this message to the community.

“So save the people behind you,” he said. “Your car is insured, so bring only one car. If you have only one car, everyone will get out early and be safe.”

Another solution derived from the Google team is called “Contraflow,” he said.

Police Lieutenant Lindsay Haynes said “regurgitation” is the movement of traffic in undesignated directions. She said it was used in Santa Rosa and Paradise.

“Therefore, we move essentially in the opposite lane to increase the flow of evacuation,” Haynes said.

This method is used on two major routes in the city, East Blissdale Avenue and Mirror Avenue, to guide people to Route 101.

The city owns trailers with traffic evacuation facilities such as signs, barricades and cones. Two more trailers will be purchased for $ 15,000 this year, according to the city.

Google’s report was presented at a city council meeting on March 15. Residents called through the streets of Edgewood, Molino, and Monford to point out that there was another way out of the city and wrote in the meeting.

Resident Ronald Schaefer writes that homestead valley evacuees can create bottlenecks in the Edgewood system.

“Delays due to blockages are a major concern for all of us who endanger the evacuees remaining above the hill and are unable to drive freely,” he said.

According to Macquarie, Bayfront Park can be used as a vehicle staging area to ease traffic congestion and allow vehicles in canyons and hillsides to escape.

“The strategy of intermittently moving cars to Bayfront Park is like a grocery store that opens additional checkout lanes to move customers more efficiently,” he said.

Bayfront Park can accommodate up to 1,000 vehicles. The sports field at Tamarpas High School can accommodate an additional 1,500 vehicles.

Fire officials said residents should go to the nearest “community shelter” if the road is blocked.

“We have identified specific areas where the community can leave if the need arises under low flammability and last resort type conditions,” said Deputy Chief Mwelch of the South Marine Fire Protection District. I will.

The largest shelter is the Mill Valley Golf Course. City officials are considering the costs associated with converting some of these shelters into staging areas for vehicles.

McCawley said the city should conduct an evacuation drill this summer.

“It won’t be that difficult,” he said. “Let’s do that and see how it’s done operational. So that’s what I’m really lobbying for.”

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