Efforts to slow traffic stuck in neutral

DOWNEY - Advocated originally by Councilman David Gafin when the City Council a while back undertook to prioritize its goals, city staff was optimistic last week that its updated Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program, already exhaustive as it was, would meet council approval.There was no such luck. Back it went to the drawing board "for further discussion later." In particular, said public works director John Oskoui, who made the presentation, the council directed staff to look further into other options, including making speed humps the subject of a pilot program to enhance safety and control traffic flow in residential streets. As it now stands, the recommended updated traffic calming program consists of Stage I and Stage II general traffic control measures. Stage I refers to traffic calming measures that do not involve "the use of physical controls or impediments " on the roadway system, such as the already functioning Neighborhood Watch Programs, radar speed trailer deployments at carefully selected spots, enhanced police enforcement activity, etc. Stage II measures, should Stage I measures fail, involve physical modifications (speed humps, mini-roundabouts, street closures and cul-de-sacs, diverters, etc.) to the street in question. The advantages and disadvantages of the indicated measures are included in the staff report. The selection of streets qualifying for inclusion in the program's Stage I is itself not a simple process. It involves seven steps: first, reporting the problem. If a resident feels there is a speeding or traffic problem in his/her neighborhood, it must be reported to the city's traffic engineering staff; second, verification by city staff of the significance and propriety of the complaint; third, if action is justified, vehicle speed and volume data, as well as other factors, will be compiled and studied by staff, prior to selection of the "most critical" traffic calming requests; fourth, the city will try Stage I measures first (Stage II measures are 'solutions of last resort'; fifth, follow-up evaluation involving three to six months' time; sixth, if Stage I measures are deemed unsuccessful, staff will commence Stage II calming study; seventh, resort to Stage II measures, after all relevant factors are considered. Thus, as may be surmised, a traffic calming solution could itself be problematic. The procedure outlined above is not the result of bureaucracy either but a calculated, careful study of several variables. These include relative costs, possible obsolescence of technological equipment, changes in neighborhood traffic patterns resulting from enhanced police enforcement, etc. In the matter of which particular street gets chosen as warranting a traffic calming measure, selection criteria will be ranked according to traffic speed, cut-through traffic, crash incidence history, pedestrian traffic, etc. Actually, the city had already actually analyzed the effect of speed awareness trailers at eight city locations and found them to have a positive impact on vehicle speeds, e.g., an average 85th percentile speed reduction of 2 MPH was observed. These locations were: Horley Avenue - from Suva Street to Florence Avenue; Rio Flora Place - from Ryerson Avenue to Old River School Road; Dalen Street - from Bellflower Boulevard to Ardis Avenue; Adoree Street - from Paramount Boulevard to Downey Avenue; Lubec Street - from Haledon Avenue to Downey Sanford Bridge; Vista Del Rosa Street - from Lakewood Boulevard to Stoakes Avenue; Dinwiddie Street - from Rio Hondo Drive to Old River School Road; and Seventh Street - from Brookshire Avenue to Downey Avenue. The city has meanwhile, said Oskoui, applied for and received a $180,000 grant through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, toward the purchase and installation of 20 solar-powered vehicle speed feedback signs. Ten such signs will be allocated (two each) to each council member to be installed at sites of his choosing. Authorization to proceed with their construction is subject to Caltran's OK, expected this coming May. Indeed, quoting Oskoui, "Some homework still needs to be done."

********** Published: March 3, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 46