First published in the Feb. 2 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Three new mid-block traffic signal crossings are in the works for the La Cañada Flintridge area after a Public Works and Traffic Commission meeting on Jan. 18.
To improve pedestrian, bicyclist and equestrian safety at mid-block trails and crosswalks, the City Council approved as part of the Fiscal Year 2022-23 Budget the installation of traffic signals, according to the staff liaison to the Public Works and Traffic Commission Patrick DeChellis.
Initially, the public works and traffic commission submitted a proposal for five mid-block crossings in the city that were approved by the city council, but after some revision and time, the commission wanted to revise the list of locations to what was presented in the most recent meeting.
The estimated cost of the three new mid-block traffic signals is $900,000; $1.2 million was previously budgeted for the five mid-block traffic signals, according to the public works agenda.
During the January meeting, city Traffic Engineer Farhad Iranitalab presented to the commission why each location was justified — or not — for a mid-block crossing.
The final locations approved were three crosswalks at Memorial Park at Foothill Boulevard, Verdugo Boulevard at Trail Crossing and Descanso Drive at Trail Crossing.
“People are walking everywhere. Walking with animals. Walking with children. Walking with strollers. It’s become a very pedestrian active community and I think we need to push forward at looking at ways to improve,” said Commission Chair Edward Yu.
The mid-block crossings would have crosswalks that have a red stop light — instead of the flashing yellow beacon — for pedestians when they wish to cross. When no one is using the crosswalk, the signal will stay red for drivers.
Iranitalab recommended installing a three-way stop sign at Santa Inez Way and Crown Avenue to create a better and safer situation. Since the trail crossing is less than 150 feet north of the intersection, the three-way stop will provide for a safer crossing without the drawbacks of a signal at the crossing.
Commissioner Marvin Collins agreed with the staff recommendations. He mentioned a personal experience, saying he was using the crosswalk at Memorial Park and Foothill Boulevard when he almost got hit by a pickup truck, even though the rapid flashing beacon was going off.
“That’s where this project came from,” said DeChellis, responding to Collins. “The number of complaints that the city council had received about … vehicles not stopping” after traffic lights were flashing.
The city manager then asked the commission what other locations could have the same problem and benefit from mid-block crossing stop lights.
“I think this is a very worthy project, but some of the ones we are removing still have still issues,” Yu noted, referencing the Chevy Chase Drive at Flint Canyon Trail crossing.
DeChellis answered by saying they improved the area a year and a half ago to add more signage and paint visuals.
LCF resident David Haxton spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Haxton mentioned several locations he thought deserved a mid-block, stop-light crossing, which included Foothill and Union, and Armstrong and Viro. He suggested these locations based on previous, serious accidents, adding how hard it can be to safely cross at the crosswalk.
In response, Yu emphasized he agrees the city needs to continue adjusting the traffic signals at the other crosswalks.
“It takes time and I think this is the proper step to move forward to improving what we do have, the infrastructure we do have. … I just want to make sure that we continue to move forward at looking at these other locations that Mr. Haxton talked about.”
The motion to move forward on the three mid-block crossings was approved.