First published in the April 28 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
At a city Public Works and Traffic Commission meeting last week, several representatives from the California Department of Transportation presented proposed safety changes and measures to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which included possibly building a mini-roundabout at the intersection with Green Lane.
Several representatives from the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, gave a presentation about proposed safety and ADA changes along Angeles Crest, which included possibly building a mini-roundabout at the intersection with Green Lane.
It is a Caltrans project, but agency representatives wanted to get feedback from local officials and residents about it.
Public Works Director Patrick DeChellis said the proposal is “conceptual and preliminary” and, while the commission wasn’t going to vote on it, it will advance to City Council for further consideration.
“Nothing is in concrete,” said Tina Dalili, transportation engineer for Caltrans, District 7.
The overall 12-mile project along the 2 Freeway includes Los Angeles, Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge, with LFS’s portion being three miles. The proposal here would run from Foothill Boulevard to Gould Mesa, reducing the number of lanes in the southbound direction to one lane in some segments of the highway.
The focus of most of the meeting was a section from Vista Del Valle to Salisbury Court. It’s two lanes now, with plans to reduce it to one, a point that concerned some residents who live along that stretch who spoke at the meeting because it would be harder for them to exit their driveways, and one resident, who backs into her driveway to make it easier to exit, said one lane might prohibit her from doing that.
There would also be a two-way bike lane on the west side of highway with parking on both sides. There is also a sidewalk proposed on the west side of the highway.
Dalili also went over the possible impacts of the overall proposal, which could affect a light pole as well as two utility poles. Also, trees, including one tall one, planters, retaining walls, mailboxes and two driveways could be impacted.
Commissioner Edward Yu said he was concerned about plans for a roundabout because drivers could have trouble maneuvering around it if they’re not traveling at a safe speed.
He suggested a traffic light at the intersection might be a better option, and Caltrans officials said they had not considered a signal.
Several other options are being considered, including reducing the speed limit on Angeles Crest from 45 mph to 40 mph. Also, speed feedback signs and advance signage warning motorists about the upcoming roundabout are being discussed.
Volume on that stretch of Angeles Crest during peak times is 900 to 1,000 vehicles per hour, according to traffic studies, but much lower during off-peak times.
During her presentation, Dalili pointed to a factor that supports a roundabout.
“Usually, the cars pass by at 15 mph,” she said. “So, it will help tremendously on your speed reduction.”
Commissioner Arun Jain said he had reservations about reducing the southbound downhill route from two lanes to one. “That’s a very dangerous situation the way I see it,” he said.
He said drivers will be going down the highway, usually at high speeds, and then turn a bend and suddenly encounter a round-about or traffic signal or stop sign.
“This is a recipe for accidents,” he said, adding he would like to see more information about traffic volume on the southbound side and what times the traffic traverses the road.
A Caltrans official said his colleagues figured if one lane can handle capacity at peak hours then it should be fine. Also, there is a parking lane, so if a driver needs to go around a vehicle, that lets them go around them. If they keep it at two lanes, traffic tends to spread out and drivers accelerate their speeds.
Jain said he still thinks it’s a hazardous situation and Caltrans should revisit the proposal in that stretch of Angeles Crest.
Jain also asked why a sidewalk is proposed on the west side of the highway and not the east side. A Caltrans official said there are several utility poles along that stretch of the road and Caltrans doesn’t have the right of way for them.
Yu raised concerns about the property encroachment that would be required for the sidewalk. He asked if the median in the center of the highway could be reduced to decrease the encroachment impact.
A Caltrans officials said the agency had not considered that yet.
Commission Vice-Chair Marvin Collins brought up concerns about the two-way bike lane. Currently, riders cycling uphill are on the right side of the east side of the street and those riding downhill are on the right side of the west side of the street.
With the side-by-side arrangement, bike riders will be sharing space, with four feet on each lane, and a three-foot buffer from the traffic. Collins, who he is a bicyclist, he said, “You’re putting us close together and that’s gonna be kinda scary the first few times.”
Looking at the timeline for the project, the design is expected to be designed by March 2024, with construction beginning the following November, Dalili said. The project is expected to be finished by November 2026.
In looking at the proposal, Commissioner Kati Rubinyi said information about the background, data and research for the project needs to be in the proposal to let residents better understand the need for changes to reduce speeds.
“The messaging has to be rethought,” she said, adding she thinks revised messaging will help residents better understand the project.
“Change is hard. It’s hard everywhere, but especially here. People here, they want everything the way that it is exactly right now or the way that it was two years ago or 10 years ago is the perfect thing and anything in the future that anybody wants to do…. is something to fight against,” she said.
“This is a challenging situation,” Yu said. “This community can be very vocal and we kinda know what we want and what we don’t want But, in this case, it’s really difficult to pick the right path here,” he said, adding that some people, for example, want a sidewalk and some people don’t.
He also said he would like Caltrans to think more short-term.
“We can’t wait for a complete project to happen. I would like to see some initial measures, whether striping or signage or a speed-feedback sign,” he said.
He asked Caltrans representatives to consider actions that can be implemented “sooner rather than later.”
He did not support a roundabout at the intersection because of the 7% downhill grade on that stretch of the highway. Plus, there are semi-trucks moving down the roadway.
He also mentioned rumble strips as an alternative to speed bumps, which was mentioned as a speed-reduction option.
Some residents also brought up concerns about excessive noise coming from vehicles traveling along Angeles Crest.
Commission Chair Eldon Horst said the problem is that, while the city has stepped up police patrols along Angeles Crest, the tricky part is that the speeding is happening later at night. A police office has to see the driver speeding and creating excessive noise to issue a citation and that’s not always possible.
DeChellis said after the meeting that he preferred a roundabout because studies have shown that people will speed more after they depart from a stopped traffic signal in order to make up time they feel they lost at the light.
For more information, contact the project manager Rene Galvan, at (213) 296-1872 or email@example.com.