First published in the Aug. 4 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
With several accidents at a specific intersection and numerous concerns expressed by residents, the city of La Cañada Flintridge is taking action against speeding on its streets and considering implementing measures that proved to be effective in other areas.
City staff discussed the issue with the Public Works and Traffic Commission at a meeting July 20 and stated that they will collect data from streets on which traffic-calming devices were installed to determine the effectiveness of the measures taken to reduce speeding.
Projects on Descanso Drive, La Granada Way, Encinas Drive and Commonwealth Avenue from last fiscal year addressed the issue by implementing speeding measures such as bollards with median striping, rumble strips, new signs and pavements markings in an effort to better alert drivers and make streets safer for pedestrians.
“Speeding [is] like a pandemic in itself,” said Commission Chair Edward Yu. “Anything we can do to address it is welcome.”
Farhad Iranitalab, the city’s traffic engineer, said he would like to evaluate traffic at the four sites to see if they could be expanded in other areas throughout the city. He added that he has noticed an improvement on Descanso Drive with drivers staying within 10 mph of the speed limit.
“Our goal is to inform them or alert them of where they are,” Iranitalab said. “And we have heard a lot of positive feedback.”
The city is also looking to work with the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, on mitigating speeding on Angeles Crest Highway near Foothill Boulevard. During its annual budget meeting, the City Council recently allocated $250,000 toward evaluating long-term improvements to ACH.
The intersection is plagued with a history of traffic collisions, including a fatal crash in 2009 in which a big-rig truck speeding down ACH lost its brakes, smashed into three vehicles and killed two people. Two accidents occurred earlier this year and another in June, prompting Patrick DeChellis, the city’s public works director, to address the issue.
There have been four accidents at the intersection since last November and three of them involved drivers who were under the influence.
“We’re all aware of the accidents that have been occurring on Foothill Boulevard at ACH. Another one happened [June 14],” DeChellis said. “Luckily, it went right between the Hill Street [Cafe] and the signal standard and clipped the Hill Street [Cafe] sign. It messed up the landscaping, but based on that, I met with Farhad [and] we’ve talked about doing some things.”
The city has already implemented signs, reflective tape around the traffic signal backplates and pavement markings to better inform drivers coming down ACH, and DeChellis is proposing to modify the signal operation at ACH and Town Center Drive to have all-red flashing between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“This is something we can implement right away,” DeChellis said. “The goal is to catch their attention coming down the hill.”
The city also hopes to do the same at the intersections of the 210 offramps, but those must be approved by Caltrans because the signals are right off the freeway.
Though it is uncertain whether the state would accept the city’s request, LCF staff believes these measures can make a slight difference.
Iranitalab noted that most of the accidents happen during off-peak hours and that drivers speeding down the highway are usually not paying attention. “So, we think, in the interim, if you change the signals’ operation, they at least can pay attention,” he added.
In April, Caltrans presented possible safety changes along ACH that included a roundabout at the intersection with Green Lane and lowering the speed limit, but there has been no progress on the proposal.
“I had expected to hear back, and I have not heard a word from Caltrans,” DeChellis said. “I’ve been meaning to get off an email to Caltrans, but I think it’s only bad news.”