New diagonal crosswalk in Montrose is hard not to notice as traffic slows to a crawl.
By Mary O’KEEFE
Last Thursday, to almost everyone’s surprise, a diagonal crosswalk was established at the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue in Montrose.
“It was just there,” said Justin Gentle.
“It’s like Pasadena, but we aren’t Pasadena,” said Jocelyn Males.
The administration and board of the Montrose Shopping Park Association seemed equally surprised and echoed the pair’s comments.
“First of all the [MSPA] board was shocked,” said Dale Dawson, MSPA business administrator/event coordinator. “No one told us it was coming.”
“I think it is a big mistake,” MSPA President Andre Ordubegian said.
The concerns, according to the MSPA, come from the fact that no one had mentioned this change to the business owners or to the board, and that the crosswalk, including signage, did not seem to be well thought-out.
Ordubegian argued that there was no need for the change in the crosswalk in part because the street crossing is only two lanes across, a relatively short distance. Most diagonal crosswalks, like in downtown Glendale and Pasadena, are at least four lanes across.
“This is a pilot program,” said Roubik Golanian, Glendale Public Works director. “In 2013 we did a survey of pedestrian and bike counts and this intersection came up as one of the top five with the highest pedestrian [activity].”
Because it is a pilot program, there was no need for community meetings to be held, he added.
Because the public, business owners and MSPA members were not notified is an issue with Ordubegian. He plans to have representatives from the city at the next MSPA meeting on March 5. Another concern he has is traffic congestion and pedestrian safety.
The flow of traffic has been affected as is evident in how long cars have to wait to cross the intersection of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard. Several drivers, both members of the MSPA and local residents, have commented to Ordubegian and CVW on the increased wait times to cross the intersection.
Traffic has been backed up from the intersection to Wickham Way for those traveling eastbound, and those traveling southbound on Ocean View Boulevard were backed up to Florencita Avenue. These slow downs are extremely unusual for the area. Some drivers have reported waiting through two to three signal light changes before being able to drive through the intersection.
“I am concerned because the traffic is [congested]. If a person wants to make a left into one of the banks [from the westbound lane] that backs traffic up more,” said GiGi Garcia, owner of It Takes a Village located on Honolulu Avenue and a member of the MSPA board.
“And we have already been having problems with the buses,” Ordubegian added.
There have been talks concerning re-routing the buses that travel south on Ocean View Boulevard then west on Honolulu Avenue. Ordubegian worries the new traffic congestion will create more issues with the bus route.
Garcia worries that with the increased traffic, businesses will begin to suffer because it will be so difficult to travel down Honolulu Avenue. Those who come to Montrose to pick up a quick gift at shops like hers, or stop for an ice cream cone, will no longer find it convenient.
“They will find alternative routes,” she said. “You won’t see us [businesses] if you are on Montrose Avenue.”
Another issue that Ordubegian is concerned about is the signage for the new crosswalk.
“Signs are poorly set and the way they direct people is confusing,” he said.
And for those who are making a right on a red light, the confusion can quickly turn into a dangerous situation. As of Wednesday night, there were no signs indicating a right turn was not allowed on a red light. At present drivers turning right are having trouble seeing pedestrians coming from the center of the street.
Golanian said public works will have traffic engineers and the police department monitor the traffic on a regular basis.
The possibility of a diagonal crosswalk has been discussed in the past, according to a post on Facebook.
A resident shared that in March 2013 she received a response from the City of Glendale concerning a request she had made for a diagonal crosswalk at Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue. The response, according to the post, was a letter that stated the city “has completed our investigation and we do not recommend the installation for the following reasons…” Those reasons included the “geometry of this intersection is not typical to intersections where diagonal crosswalks are considered.” The letter went on to explain that the intersection curb ramp is not typical for a diagonal crosswalk. It also stated the traffic signal conduits “underground are old and cannot accommodate additional wiring” required.
Another resident posted that she too received a similar letter responding to her request.
Tom Lorenz, spokesman for the City of Glendale, said there were requests for the diagonal crosswalk and that previous board members of the MSPA had requested the city to look into the matter.
“I was on the board for 12 years and don’t remember anyone talking about this,” said Alyce Russell, former MSPA president.
There was a discussion that occurred recently, according to Ordubegian, between several members of the present MSPA board, a former member of the board and Glendale City Councilwoman Paula Devine.
“Paula had asked us what we thought [about the crosswalk],” he said.
Ordubegian voiced his opposition then to the idea and reiterated what MSPA has been wanting for years – new garbage receptacles.
“We are trying to eliminate the trash problem here. The trash bins are too small,” he said.
He added he would have preferred the city spend money on that issue rather than on the crosswalk that, in his opinion, is not needed.
This discussion, though, is exactly what the city’s pilot program is designed for, said Lorenz.
There have not been any pedestrian accidents at that intersection but that does not mean there won’t be.
“It is not if but when,” Lorenz said.
The city overall has seen an increase in pedestrian versus vehicle accidents. The purpose of the pilot program is to find what will work and what will not work to protect pedestrians, Lorenz added.
If the diagonal crosswalk is not something that the public wants or creates more traffic issues, it will be taken out. But if the crosswalk has a positive response, the city will then make the needed improvements and adjustments, which may affect another portion of the town.
“If [the crosswalk] proves to be successful and the community wants and supports it, we will then [probably] eliminate the [existing] sidewalk crossings because it will be redundant,” Golanian said.
The sidewalk crossings are those bricked lined crosswalks that cut across Honolulu Avenue at various places throughout the town.
“That would be another big mistake,” Ordubegian said.
CVW would like to know what our readers think of this new addition to the town. Is the diagonal necessary? Do you like it or do you not like it? Fill out the form below and mail or drop at our CVW office at 3800 La Crescenta Ave. #101, La Crescenta, CA 91214. Or comment online by clicking on this story and respond to comments, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Montrose pedestrian and vehicle traffic have increased, in part due to the promotion by MSPA and the introduction of more restaurants and longer hours of operation by retailers.