HomeCity Government NewsPanel OKs Plan to Modify Angeles Crest Highway Lanes

Panel OKs Plan to Modify Angeles Crest Highway Lanes

First published in the Dec. 1 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The city of La Cañada Flintridge may not be able to control how individuals drive at Angeles Crest Highway and Foothill Boulevard, but it can implement safety measures to improve visibility and reduce speeding at what is one of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in the area.
The Public Works and Traffic Commission proclaimed its commitment to improving conditions in the area by backing a proposal from city staff that would remove a lane from the southbound side of Angeles Crest Highway, or ACH, between the 210 Freeway ramps and Foothill Boulevard and add a third lane going northbound to improve the traffic flow in the area.
The panel voted 5-0 in favor of recommending the modifications to the City Council, which will have final say in the matter.
LCF staff estimates the cost of the project to be approximately $300,000, of which $250,000 is already included in the city’s fiscal year budget for 2022-2023. The Public Works Department will request an additional $50,000 for the work to be completed.
Farhad Iranitalab, LCF’s traffic engineer, proposed that the existing raised median located on ACH just before the city’s main corridor be moved to the west to allow a third lane for drivers turning onto ACH from Foothill Boulevard. The right lane would be dedicated to drivers turning into the Town Center or the 210 east onramp and the remaining two lanes are for through traffic.
Iranitalab said the measure isn’t only to alleviate the congestion in the area, but also to increase safety. The intersection has a history of traffic collisions, including the devastating 2009 crash in which a father and daughter died after a big-rig truck lost control and smashed into several cars and a business. The concept plan would narrow the lanes on the southbound side of ACH, and Iranitalab believes it would make the intersection more visible for drivers and encourage them to slow down as they approach Foothill.
City staff had presented this plan to the panel in September, but the commissioners asked that staff look into the possibility of adding a bike lane to make the area safer for cyclists. Iranitalab informed them safe bike lane cannot be provided for cyclists riding southbound on Angeles Crest Highway because of the steep, wide concrete gutters on each side of the street.
The commissioners looked at photos of the area in search of solutions that could accommodate a bike path.
“We’ve got to figure out a way in this town to not just make these streets safe for cars but for all users, and right now, this configuration isn’t optimal [for cyclists] in my view,” Commissioner Eldon Horst, who often rides his bike near the intersection, said during a Nov. 16 meeting.
Chair Edward Yu suggested that the median be removed to make room for a bike lane, but Iranitalab shot down the idea, saying he “wasn’t comfortable” with removing it to accommodate a small population of cyclists.
“My feeling is for safety, this is a lot better than the number of people that are cycling,” Iranitalab said. “I understand … that we have to be for everybody, [but] you have to balance which is more advantageous than the other [when it comes to] safety.”
Should the project move forward, it would force the Allen Lund Company building located on 4529 Angeles Crest Highway to designate a new loading zone, which is currently located in the front of the structure facing the street. The building has limited parking for the approximately 100 employees and little to no space for a loading area in the rear.
“There’s just not a lot of room back there unless you park in the alley, and then you’re blocking the egress,” said David Lund, executive vice president of the Allen Lund Company, who added that California Highway Patrol officers frequently use the loading zone to pull over drivers. “You’re putting these vehicles in places where they can block the alley.”
According to Iranitalab, there is no official documentation in which the city agreed to designate the front of the building as a loading zone. Lund said it’s been that way for a long time, and Pat Anderson, president and CEO of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce, came to his defense.
“I can tell you that during this time the area in front of the building has always been a loading zone,” said Anderson, who informed the commission that the LCF Chamber of Commerce’s office used to be in the Allen Lund building. “It’s a bad situation to try to put the loading and unloading anywhere else, and the only thing that makes sense is keep it where it is.”
The loading area was part of the agenda because the curb needs to be repainted, and city staff was seeking guidance from the commissioners as to whether they should repaint it or add signage that would restrict any stopping.
The commission ultimately decided to repaint the curb and allow the building to continue using the loading zone near the front entrance. However, should the traffic engineer’s proposal to remove a lane from the southbound side of ACH move forward — and it is expected to be approved — the company would have to find a new loading zone.
“I think in a bigger picture, the loading zone should not be on the city street,” Vice Chair Arun Jain said. “That is a recipe for headaches, mistakes and accidents.”
Iranitalab’s proposal will be reviewed by the City Council at a future meeting.


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