By Mary O’KEEFE
After years of accidents, traffic studies and neighbor talking to neighbor the residents of Waltonia Drive will finally be getting help with their long time traffic issues.
The Los Angeles County of Public Works has approved all of the proposed traffic and safety solutions they brought to the Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting in July of last year.
“We will [create] a median at Park Place and Waltonia Drive and do striping,” said Mike Kaspar, spokesman for public works. “There will also be eight new street lights added.”
Waltonia Drive has had several accidents and had been the subject of several traffic studies. The results concluded that small changes were warranted, like reducing speed from 35 miles per hour to 30, but neighbors didn’t feel these solutions fully addressed the problem.
Resident Liz Langford has been dealing with the traffic problems since 1999. She had contacted the County about traffic issues.
“That ended with California Highway Patrol here with radar enforcement,” she said.
That helped as long as the officers were there but once the traffic slowed and CHP left the accidents began again. The studies that were done did not show a great increase in traffic accidents but Langford said part of that might be due to the fact that some neighbors did not report the small accidents.
“They would hear a crash and by the time we all got out here the [driver and car] would be gone,” she said.
Not all the accidents were small. On Aug. 19, 2010 residents woke to the sound of crashing and crunching. A woman driver had hit several vehicles and was attempting to leave the scene when neighbors came out to their front yards. A resident reached in and turned the car off to stop the woman from driving away. CHP found that the driver was driving under the influence and had apparently drifted across Waltonia Drive and hit a parked car that in turn forced the first car into a second car. This was the third accident in seven months that occurred on Waltonia Drive that involved a drunken driver.
Another accident ended up totaling Langford’s vehicle. She decided to contact the Crescenta Valley Town Council.
“Steve Goldsworthy [councilmember on the safety committee at that time] has been very supportive,” Langford said. “He followed up with us. The town council was pretty impressive.”
Goldsworthy had contacted public works and they came to CVTC meeting to present suggestions for traffic flow changes.
The plan is to extend the center line on Waltonia by 30 feet which is designed to help motorists make turns a little wider, a pedestrian island on Park Place at Waltonia Drive and more street lights at the new island and along Waltonia.
Most of the proposals have been approved, Kaspar said.
Southern California Edison is in talks with the County on when and where the eight new lights will be added. Originally 11 lights were proposed but only eight were approved.
Langford said she hoped the lights would not only make it safer for pedestrians but would slow drivers down when they see the lights.
“I love the lights and the median,” she said.
When the changes were proposed neighbors were told it would probably take a year to approve however Kaspar said the work would begin in March and only take about two days. Langford said they were happy that public works took them seriously and are working fast.
Langford added she hoped the changes would help slow people down although she still has concerns about those that travel from the north end of Waltonia Drive.
The speed limit has recently been reduced from 30 mph to 25. Langford said that change has helped.
“But no amount of lighting or signage is going to stop people from driving drunk,” Goldsworthy said during the July CVTC meeting.
He added that law enforcement also plays a key role in traffic safety.
“The changes are a great start,” Langford said. “It shows what neighbors can do.”