Friday, February 25, 2011

Proposed Alternate Plans for Wilbur Ave.

Issues with the Wilbur Road Diet and 2 proposeds solutions.

Back ups during school drop off.
There is no question that back up occurs for folks heading south from Chatsworth to Devonshire. The dispute is over how much it's backing up and what to do to solve it. The peak of the back up according to an early study by the LADOT and a later study by Paul Kirk is happening between 7:40AMish and 7:55AMish and is a result of door to door school drop off traffic. This kind of problem is not new, school drop off is a common traffic issue in many neighborhoods and indeed occurred under the old configuration. But with the road diet there is a stack up in the south bound direction coming from the Porter Ranch and Northern areas with clogging back towards Chatsworth. For the remainder of the day, the result has been civilized flow of small amounts of cars and then during the evening potentially another period of back up - to knowledge no one has done a count in the evenings. Eventually, it has been suggested, non local traffic will subside as people choose higher volume streets like Reseda or Tampa to commute through. However other people have suggested those streets are backed up too.

A Compromise. 4 Lanes to Devonshire from Chatsworth.
The LADOT has presented a design to be voted on next March 15th. As I will show below, this design is ok except for one particularly dangerous merge scenario. To relieve the school drop off back up, I am proposing a 4 lane Chatsworth to Devonshire solution while preserving the existing road diet as is, south of Devonshire. The road diet has enabled the creation of a contiguous third lane across the entire stretch. It is vital and used for turning in and out of street locked communities the length of the road diet. It is this lane and the bicycle lanes make for a more civilized flow of traffic and a more people friendly neighborhood. With 3 schools in the area and CSUN, we need civility more than we need speeding and I truly believe that the school drop off issue can be solved in other ways, one of which is through a program called Safe Routes to School.

The Wilbur Working Group Ad-Hoc Committee
Though barred as a petitioned member of the group from the first meeting by the councilman's office, I was allowed to represent the people living on Wilbur during the second and third meetings plus an additional one on one meeting with Mitch Englander to discuss the alternate proposal.

During my time on the Wilbur Working Group Ad-Hoc committee, possible solutions to the "school drop off" back up issues were explored. The school drop off mayhem causes exit issues for the Belcourt and Ridgegate communities just north of Devonshire. Unfortunately for these folks, the layout of their community makes exiting a bit more difficult due to a one exit configuration. No matter the configuration of Wilbur this seems an issue. A look at Google maps shows the problem:

Only one functioning exit exists for Belcourt at this time. The emergency gate is located next to the baseball field. Perhaps this gate should be opened and made a full time additional exit.

Ridgegate gated community suffers the same one exit problem:

Ridgegate Gated community has one functioning exit and one emergency exit. Opening the emergency exit and making it full time functional has been discussed at the Wilbur working group. It would seem that no matter the layout of Wilbur, this would be a good idea.
Rush to Judgement:
Generally speaking everyone at the working group, though most completely opposed the traffic calming of Wilbur, were open to ideas. Unfortunately the one plan offered by the LADOT and rushed through by the committee creates an induced drag race scenario beginning at the Devonshire light heading south to Mayall. I'm referring to a 45mph rated lane merge that repeats all of the issues that made the bottleneck at Dearborn to the south a deadly problem. If the boards vote for this configuration statistics show that serious accidents will become an issue at the bottleneck.

Current LADOT Proposed design - a 45 mph lane merge:
This 45mph rated lane merge is being rushed through by the Wilbur Working group. Anyone can see that as cars pile up at the light at devonshire south, a green light would effectively be the start of a drag race that culminates at Mayall. 185 residents in the area have signed petitions stating they want a crosswalk at Mayall. With this proposed design, the intersection of Mayall would become a FINISH LINE for a drag race.

Alternate Proposed solution to relieve Belcourt and Ridgegate exit issues:

Keep clear markings and 4 lane configuration would appease the desires of the Belcourt and Ridgegate communities. This design would require 10' width lanes which the LADOT is authorized but is loathe to implement.

We Need a Crosswalk NOT a finishline!
Last month the Northridge West Neighborhood Council voted to support a "no cost" crosswalk at Mayall timed with the re-striping. If the street crews are going to be out there re-striping, putting in a crosswalk in conjunction with that re-striping will not cost much more if anything at all. This would be a huge improvement for the folks along Tuba Crebs and LeMarsh who live in a street locked community and who wish to cross the street safely on a walk through the neighborhood.

Alternate Proposed solution (cont'd)

Rather than the 45moh rated proposed merge that the LADOT has suggested for Devonshire south to Mayall, this design proposes Keep Clear markings, and a crosswalk at Mayall.

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