Residents Get Up to Speed on Possible Changes

By Brandon HENSLEY

The proposal to raise speed limits on certain streets in La Crescenta was met with a cold reception at the Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting March 15.

Inside the La Crescenta Library community room, James Chon and Anish Saraiya from L.A. Public Works spoke to the audience about recent engineering and traffic surveys that were completed. Saraiya said these surveys are taken every seven years, and that now Public Works is proposing raising the speed limit in four areas.

These areas are: on Briggs Avenue, from Shields Avenue to Foothill Boulevard, County proposed to raise the limit from 30 mph to 35 mph; on La Crescenta Avenue from Markridge Avenue to Foothill, they propose to raise it from 30 mph to 35 mph; on La Crescenta Avenue from Foothill to Montrose Avenue, to be raised from 35 mph to 40 mph, and on Ramsdell Avenue from Montrose to Markridge, they want to raise it from 30 mph to 35 mph.

After the meeting, CVTC President Cheryl Davis said council will have to talk this matter over in another meeting within the next month and then report back to Public Works. Davis said earlier this week that County has final say, but that “they do give a great deal of weight on what the community wants.”

Part of the reasoning for this proposal, said Saraiya, is what County calls the “85th percentile speed.”

“That is the speed that 85% of people on that roadway do not exceed. It’s not an average speed, it’s a threshold. So it’s generally the speed of travel that most prudent, safe drivers travel.”

Audience and councilmembers alike were confused as to the meaning of this. Saraiya explained further that, for instance, on some streets in town where the speed limit is 30 mph, most drivers were observed going at speeds just over 35 mph, and that is the speed they feel most comfortable going based on how many cars are on the road and how many pedestrians there are in the vicinity.

Saraiya noted school zones will always be 25 mph, and that freeways, because they are multi-lane, can’t be legally raised above 65 mph. Still, there were concerns about a slippery-slope effect.

“From my experience I can say that you don’t see an incremental increase just because you raise the speed limit,” Saraiya said.

Saraiya and Chon said setting speed limits isn’t an arbitrary thing. For example, there can’t be a 25 mph speed limit on Pennsylvania Avenue just because. If a driver is ticketed for that, a judge might say it’s not right if it seems everyone is comfortable going 35 mph on that road.

“It’s required by law that we set speed limits that are enforceable by radar with survey,” said Chon.

In related news, Saraiya said that the lighted crosswalk on Foothill Boulevard and Glenwood Avenue will be completed by May, and that construction has started early.

In other council matters, there was a meeting in L.A. on Tuesday when a county hearing officer decided to refer an issue of proposed single detached condominiums to the Planning Commission. If the structures were approved, residents who disapprove would have had to appeal.

The structures are planned to go on the 2000 block of Cross Street. Davis said the Town Council had accepted the Land Use Committee’s recommendation to deny the project.

The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for April 19 at 7 p.m. at the La Crescenta Library.