First published in the Sept. 29 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
La Cañada Flintridge residents may have noticed a few changes driving southbound on Angeles Crest Highway toward Foothill Boulevard, including the addition of yellow backplates, all-red flashing signal heads and increased signage.
The city has gone through necessary lengths to mitigate traffic collisions at the intersection that has long been plagued by accidents, one of which was fatal, with a father and daughter killed in 2009, and the public works department isn’t done with its efforts.
LCF staff presented several ideas that could serve as short-term and long-term solutions for the dangerous intersection and asked for input from the city’s Public Works and Traffic Commission during a meeting Sept. 21.
The most recent modification done to improve visibility and encourage drivers driving southbound on Angeles Crest Highway to slow down as they approach Foothill Boulevard is having the traffic signal at Town Center Drive flashing all-red lights between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“We worked with [Los Angeles County] to work on the all-red flashing [lights], which means … everybody has to stop,” LCF Traffic Engineer Farhad Iranitalab said of the change that went into effect Sept. 18. “We want to try this to see if it will slow people down coming southbound. They won’t see all green [lights] all the way.”
Iranitalab hopes to do something similar with the signals at the 210 freeway onramps and offramps but that must come with approval from Caltrans because any modifications made to ACH north of Town Center Drive requires permission from the state.
Another traffic-calming measure that city staff proposed was narrowing the southbound ACH between the 210 freeway onramps and Foothill Boulevard by adding bollards on the west end of the street to give a “funnel vision” for drivers approaching the busy intersection. The city is also considering adding bollards to the median on ACH between the right-turn lane and first left-turn lane to slow drivers down going onto the city’s main corridor of Foothill.
“We believe this would reduce speeding coming down,” Iranitalab said. “This is a short-term [solution] we are going to practice. Of course, we’re going to have long-term alternatives that we are studying.”
The commission questioned the possible installation of bollards, especially at the median between the turning lanes. Commissioner Eldon Horst said the open median is a haven for the many cyclists that ride on ACH and use the area to wait before turning onto Foothill Boulevard.
“I think this approach that’s being proposed is a good one, but I’m a cyclist, and I come down this street every time I bike every other day,” Horst said. “These [changes] are going to impact me, but that means I just have to line up behind another car and trust that the car isn’t going to hit me.”
Chair Edward Yu suggested that staff look into restriping ACH and implementing raised reflective markers rather than installing bollards, but Pat DeChellis, LCF’s director of public works, said bollards are preferred because they are more visible.
“What we’re trying to do is add more reflection farther away from the intersection,” DeChellis said. “Yes, you can do it via reflected raised markers, but you’re not going to get the same effect as you would with [K71 bollards] when you’re further up the hill on Angeles Crest.”
Yu also asked about the possibility of a bike lane, but the idea was shot down by the traffic engineer.
“You don’t have enough room on the right lane for a bike lane,” Iranitalab said. “I would rather bikers be more cautious when they’re going through this [intersection].”
David Lund adamantly opposed the installation of bollards because it would affect businesses in the Allen Lund building on 4529 Angeles Crest Highway. The width of the street allows mail carriers to briefly park in front of the building to drop off items, and the bollards would restrict delivery drivers from accessing that loading zone.
“It’s a complicated intersection, and we need to put a little more attention to it,” Horst told LCF staff.
The city is also looking into the feasibility of taking away one lane motorists use driving southbound ACH near Foothill Boulevard and adding another to the northbound side that would be exclusive for entry to the 210 freeway.
“That would relieve some of the pressure on the left turn [from Foothill] and blocking of the intersection at Foothill and Angeles Crest.”
DeChellis reminded stakeholders that much of what was discussed at the meeting were concepts that will continue to be developed.
“If we find that it’s feasible, we’ll bring it back to the commission, but there’s nothing today that says it’s feasible,” DeChellis said.
CITY LOOKS TO MAKE LCE SAFER
The city is also looking to address traffic and safety concerns near La Cañada Elementary.
More than two dozen community members attended a town hall Aug. 11 organized by LCF staff and the school district and provided input to the public works department.
A report by the city staff indicated that most stakeholders cited drivers’ behaviors as a problem as well as a lack of law enforcement and organization from the school during pick-up and drop-off times.
There was a total of 27 concerns reported and nearly 50 solutions provided by community members present at the meeting, and DeChellis assured stakeholders that the city will evaluate each of them.
All concerns and suggestions regarding LCE traffic and safety can be sent to the public works director at email@example.com.