By Brandon HENSLEY
In what many residents hope to be a starting point, it was revealed the speed limit on Waltonia Drive in Montrose will soon be radar-enforced to 25 mph, according to L.A. County Department of Public Works officials at the March 18 Town Council meeting in the La Crescenta Library Community Room.
Tim Babich, a civil engineer in the traffic and light division of L.A. County, took questions and comments from the residents in attendance, mainly over the speeding problems on Waltonia Drive and Park Place.
The concern surrounds drivers coming down Waltonia Drive either to Park Place or to Montrose Avenue. Residents have complained of drivers speeding and cutting into the other lane when turning onto Park Place, causing potential collisions for drivers in that lane who are at the stop sign.
“I never stop close to the stop sign, because I cannot count how many times I’ve been cut off, and flipped off, so I just don’t even deal with it anymore,” said Bruce Gunnell. “The idea is that people are taking the short cut. They’re trying to get to the 134 [freeway], they’re avoiding that light [on Honolulu].”
Babich said an engineering traffic survey was updated recently and movement to radar the street has begun. The current limit is 30 mph.
“A speed of 25 mph is able to be enforced along Waltonia Drive according the California Vehicle Code,” said Babich.
California Highway Patrol Officer Ming-Yang Hsu, who also took questions, said a state-wide integrated traffic reporting system in Sacramento found 13 collisions in and around the area dating back to 2001.
“Unfortunately this is all we got,” said Hsu. “I was surprised. I thought their would be more based on the complaints that we got.”
While the news may come as a minor relief to residents, the act may take up to six to eight weeks to be put into place, according to James Chon, head of the traffic investigation system at LA County, because, “We have to go to the board of supervisors for the option.”
When it does happen, Babich detailed the County’s plan: “The CHP will deploy their radar trailer up there for a period of one to two weeks just to give the residents and also people along Waltonia Drive a chance to adjust to the new speed limit. It won’t catch people blind that way.”
Residents also complained about cars going north on Park Place that don’t properly use the stop sign. ‘The people who come north on Park Place do not recognize that stop sign … it’s a yield,” said Liz Lanford.
There were a variety of suggestions thrown Babich’s way to further curb the problems on those streets. Installing speed bumps was the most obvious one, but Babich said a study was done last year and the County concluded them to be a potential “driving hazard.” and could result in drivers losing control and getting into collisions. As far as installing lights, Babich said a study is ongoing. What about a three-way stop sign? Babich said those are only for issues concerning who has the right-away, and that is not the problem in this case.
The idea of putting an island there was floated, but Chon said, “They are typically used in the major to bigger streets.” Waltonia Drive is classified as a residential roadway.
Babich said the County will continue to do “analysis on signals on Montrose Avenue between the limits of where Waltonia Drive would start and end, and we can see if there is anything we can do to modify those signals to allow more green time for vehicles to travel along Montrose Avenue rather than take the cut-through road of Waltonia Drive.”
There was also an update on the debris basins being cleared. Mark Vander Vis, the area engineer for LA County, said 30 basins have been cleared, and five remain. He acknowledged the problems some of the trucks have caused, including traffic violations.
“We can’t control the trucks every minute,” he said. “We do give our trucks warnings when we find out they’ve been running stop signs, or red lights, or speeding. We warn them, we try to work with the local law enforcement agencies, but really it’s up to the local law agency to make them abide by the law.”
Vander Vis said there are 350 trucks that run through the town each day, which amounts to 250 truck loads per hour.
“The quicker we can get the debris basins clean the quicker the facilities are able to protect you and the rest of the community from flooding and damage,” he said.
The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for April 15 in the La Crescenta Library at 7 p.m.