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To Cross or Not to Cross?

Posted by on Feb 26th, 2015 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Photos by Mary O’KEEFE A pedestrian makes her way from the northwest corner of Ocean View and Honolulu to the southeast corner using the newly installed diagonal crosswalk.

Photos by Mary O’KEEFE
A pedestrian makes her way from the northwest corner of Ocean View and Honolulu to the southeast corner using the newly installed diagonal crosswalk.

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 robin@cvweekly.com.

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.

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9 Responses for “To Cross or Not to Cross?”

  1. Jade says:

    I walk in downtown Montrose at least 3 times a week and often visit on the weekends as well. Over the last few weeks I have seen about 5 people actually use the diagonal crosswalk. As a pedestrian I find that we have to wait much longer to even be allowed to cross as we now have to wait for one full light cycle (north south and east west) before being able to cross. Although I generally avoid Honolulu when I am in a hurry I’ve been frustrated when I am trying to do some shopping in Montrose and it takes an extra 10-15 minutes just to get to where I’m going. It seems as unnecessary and unwanted crosswalk change.

  2. Kristen C says:

    The diagonal crosswalk is not efficient for pedestrians or motorists. Previously, pedestrians could cross at every light signal, in the same direction along with the cars. Now, pedestrians can only cross one every 3 cycles, waiting for 2 turns of cars before getting the cross signal. I found crossing before the change was very painless and easy, and now it’s frustrating to have to wait for that 3rd cycle. They should leave it the way it was before.

  3. Lori Abril says:

    I have lived here all my life–50 plus years. Never have I seen such a debacle. This crosswalk is a horrible idea. The crosswalks have always worked beautifully. There was no need to change that. Now traffic is backed up and the signals take forever and a day to change. This ridiculous idea needs to be stopped immediately. And the people who promoted it need to have their heads examined. I have talked to the people who own and work in several restaurants on Honolulu and they also think it is ridiculous! There was no need to change the existing plan. Please put it back the way it was! I will stop shopping and eating in Montrose if this is not fixed.

  4. Tom Ettinger says:

    I am wondering what problem the City is trying to fix? The City has created increased traffic congestion and I observed that pedestrians are still crossing when they would normally which are a problems. The old arrangement was safer and kept traffic moving better than the diagonal cross-walks. My vote is to go back to what was working.

  5. Darin says:

    The diagonal crosswalk is a big mistake. Traffic has increased to the point that I will not drive through Montrose anymore. Instead I drive through the residential street just to the south of Honolulu. And I’m not the only one. Traffic on that street has increased as people are avoiding the downtown diagonal crosswalk. As it stands now, the crosswalks all along Honolulu allow for foot traffic to cross the street safely. If those go away as indicated if the diagonal becomes permanent, people will still cross where it is convenient, jaywalking and creating hazards.

  6. Tami Farwell says:

    This cross walk was totally unnecessary! This is small town Montrose, not big city Pasadena. This new cross walk has made it a nightmare to drive through Montrose. The traffic gets backed up really bad on Ocean View and Honolulu. We now take a totally different driving route to our favorite resturant, Pepe’s, to avoid the traffic jam at this intersection. I’m sure the residents love all the additional traffic to their neighborhoods of people like us that are now avoiding this intersection.

  7. David Meyers says:

    The diagonal cross-walks are a major FAIL. The City of Glendale has made the intersection far more dangerous, by simply adding the element of confusion. The intersection of Honolulu and Ocean View did not need any additional safety measures (other than keeping the trees from blocking the street lights). The distance from curb to curb is only two traffic lanes, and given the ample time on the countdown meters, everyone safely crosses the distance. From a drivers view, we now have to look left, right and now across. No wonder the traffic is backed up way down the streets. It’s detour time for me because this has put everyone at a greater risk.

  8. Carolyn Klas says:

    Seems like a classic case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”! I am already trying to avoid the area given the sudden increase in traffic. No more quick trips to Froyo, Paradise or Andersons. What a shame. And for what? There was nothing “difficult” about crossing the street in Montrose Shopping Park and now there are multiple issues for both cars and pedestrians. The increased traffic has even made it harder to cross and LESS safe in the brickway walks since traffic is piled back so far on Honolulu. The merchants are clearly going to lose after what seems like a successful build up of businesses in the area the last 5 years.
    I saw Seniors waiting for 5 minutes on the corner before being able to cross and saw many people walking behind busses that were “stuck” in the intersection trying to make the turn.
    Someone is going to get hurt and I truly hope they get rid of this before it comes to that. This is a big mistake with potentially serious consequences for pedestrians, drivers and merchants.

    • Sue Darrow says:

      NO…..very dangerous for obvious reasons. There is no need for this which adds extra congestion and backup. If it stays many people will stop shopping/eating in Montrose. Big mistake and will definitely hurt the merchants. WHY was this idea even considered??? If not broken DON’T fix it.

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