Monday, October 24, 2016

Northeast L.A. residents want a safer way to exit and enter the Arroyo Seco Parkway

Photo by Martha Benedict

Photo by Martha Benedict


A group of residents have started a campaign that would reserve the right lanes of the Arroyo Seco Parkway only for exiting and entering the freeway  as a way to reduce collisions and improve safety at the highway’s notoriously short onramps and offramps.

The idea would give motorists more time and room to safely exit and enter the historic roadway, according to proponents who have set up an online petition. Under the proposal, through traffic on the parkway (110 Freeway) would be limited to the middle and left lanes on both sides of the freeway. Caltrans, which had previously floated the idea a few years back, is expected to release a study on the concept in the next few months.

Jack Fenn of Montecito Heights and Clare Marter-Kenyon of Mount Washington began the online petition in response to numerous collisions that have taken place at the Avenue 43 entrances and exits.

“I use the parkway on a daily basis during the week and see the results of accidents,” says Marter-Kenyon who has lived in Mount Washington since 1977. “I have ceased to use [the] northbound on-ramp, as I feel I am a sitting duck for those who do not heed the 5 mile per hour warning, or notice it too late to avoid an accident.”

Petitioners ask State Senator Kevin de Leon to focus attention on the “dangerous situation” at the Avenue 43 entry and exit “by dedicating the right lanes to on/off.” The petition, which has been signed by more than 400 persons, says, “We have witnessed far too many serious and fatal accidents associated with exiting and entering the Parkway, particularly at Avenue 43.”

Fenn and Marter-Kenyon note that the idea of converting the right lane into a restricted on/off lane was included in a 2012 Caltrans report about the ways to improve the winding and narrow roadway.

The report proposed creating a “Parkway Auxiliary Lane Safety Demonstration Project” between Orange Grove Avenue and Avenue 43. That auxiliary lane “would be intended to improve the distance available for entering traffic to reach parkway speeds and safely merge into traffic, and in selected locations provide a dedicated safe lane for deceleration and/or stacking at the Parkway exits,” according to the 2012 report.

A representative from CalTrans this week said that the state highway agency is looking into limiting the use of the right lane during off-peak hours by converting it to an ingress/egress lane. The public can expect a report on the study within the next month or two.

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.

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  1. That would be a great idea. I travel on this freeway (or what is now called parkway) all the time and find it very annoying that people don’t have the common sense to stay out of that lane. I for one stay away from that lane! Hope this flies.

    • Why stop there? How about diagonal parking on the right lane so commuters can park and ride their bikes, rollerblade or even walk (like at the beach) on a designated middle lane and limit the left lane for cars?

      • Why stop there? How about randomly located brick walls across all lanes of all roads so people who want to see death can find fulfillment in their daily commute?

      • Why stop there? Because people need to get to work, school, markets, doctor appointments, ect. People HAVE to commute. NO REMOVAL OF CAR LANES!!

        Bicyclist need to follow the rules of the road or be cited!

  2. If you can’t stand the heat, stay off the freeway. It’s been this way for nearly 80 years right?

    It will just give people entering the freeway a false sense of security and they will end up slamming into poor motorists who can’t get over in time.

    • So then why bother give the parkway a face lift if it’s been that way for 80 years? But remember bum, 80 years ago, cars didn’t go as fast as they use to or things weren’t thought of properly. Plus as they say times change. The need to change need to be made. I, for one, can handle the heat.

    • I recall reading the design-speed of the Arroyo Seco was originally 45mph. But even with the post speed limit of 55mph, I see people driving upwards of 65-70mph on a routine basis. I think we can all agree this stretch of highway is super sketchy at times (and I drive it all the time, know all the curves and quirks.)

    • Bum is right. If you can not handle the freeway STAY OFF OF IT!!

      • The Arroyo Seco is not a freeway, it’s a parkway that was built 20 years prior to interstate freeway standards becoming the norm in highway construction.. Of course, many idiot drivers don’t know the difference and think going 70 mph in the right lane of a 75-year-old parkway created for Model T’s is just fine. Until one of these idiots slams his souped-up ’99 Honda Accord into a driver entering the parkway and kills somebody.

  3. I feel that we should make it a bike lane, if you build it they will come.

  4. Ave 43 is stunningly bad but it’s not the only one. ALL the southbound entrances and exits between South Pas and Ave 52 are video game-like.

  5. I really loathe those idiots that don’t merge and travel the slow lane their entire trip. All the while going as fast or faster than the other lanes. Self important A-hole douchebags!

    • I loathe those selfish morons who don’t move to the center lane too, even when the center lane is empty!! That being said, at most of these exits, you are getting onto a highway from a dead stop. Someone traveling at even 40 miles per hour will appear to you to be speeding if you are at a complete stop.

  6. Great idea!!!! Love this idea.

  7. Driving the speed limit might solve the problem. I travel in the slow lane because I don’t want to get run off the road by someone going 90 mph on a freeway that was built for no more than 55mph.

  8. I’ve long thought CalTrans should reduce it to 2 lanes most of the way, with proper merge lanes. This is how much of the southbound portion through Pasadena is designed, and it’s much less hectic. Safety should trump throughput, and the parkway simply wasn’t designed for modern freeway speeds.

  9. IIRC, it was the historic society that prevented cal trans from widening any of the on/off ramps.
    As stated the parkway was designed for a much slower speed, but individual choose to drive well above the posted limits create the greatest dangers.

  10. I’m so thrilled that someone is FINALLY doing something about this ridiculous road. It’s terrifying. It’s stupid. I needs to be changed.

  11. If everyone just followed the law there would be no problems.

  12. How about more Highway Patrol on the freeway giving tickets to speeders?

      • Yes! reduce the speed limit in the right lane and enforce existing traffic laws! Cheaper and more effective!

        • It would not be cheap or effective to pay police officers to stand on every street corner where there are complaints about speeding and running red lights. There would be some revenue initially because people would be surprised to encounter enforcement but once people become accustomed to police presence they will stop breaking laws and no more revenue will be collected and yet there will be an officer standing there, getting paid, to observe lawful traffic. Would officers be paid to work 24 hours a day? Weekends? Holidays (when people are known to drink and drive)?

          If enforcement were preferred and cheaper, then residents would be begging for officers on their street, not stop signs, roundabouts, and speed humps. But people know that, if placed correctly and with enough frequency, speed humps can effectively stop all speeding on a street. Speed humps are a one-time cost with occasional maintenance every few years whereas paying for regular enforcement throughout the year is an on-going cost that surely is higher.

          • Are you seriously proposing that the state install speed humps on a freeway (parkway) instead of having traffic officers enforce the speed limit?

          • WOW, you have no clue. Where did anybody say CHP should be there 24/7? But, the fact that there aren’t many CHP on that stretch of the 110, a freeway I use on a regular basis and haven’t seen one CHP in the past 6 months, could mean they need to actually start making their presence known!

          • @ elbatmanual, I was making a broader point about enforcement, if you can believe that. Seems any intervention to actually improve safety is met with “enforcement can fix that” but the enforcement proponents neglect to realize that if enforcement were added to all the places people propose it that the costs would far outweigh the benefits. Infrastructure provides permanently what enforcement can only temporarily fix. The most common example we hear about is speeding on residential streets, which is why I brought up the speed hump example. Speed humps are not being proposed in this case, nor are they feasible or perhaps even legal on limited access parkways.

            @ David: Sure, have enforcement, but don’t expect it to have an impact on safety in the long-term unless the enforcement is on-going. If enforcement is on-going, the “cheap” fix suddenly becomes expensive. This is especially true if there are limited resources (like the number of CHP officers. We can’t have officers at every “bad” location all the time, it’s just not possible) If there is an infrastructural fix that can improve safety and remove or vastly reduce the need for enforcement, why wouldn’t we do that?

          • CHP does not have to be there all the time for drivers to be conscious of the probability/possibility that they will. It’s called a deterrent. They just have to show up somewhat regularly. People travel regular commutes and this could work wonders.
            Also, is the 110 out of the LAPD’s jurisdiction?

        • @elbatmanual, if you read my comment closely, you’ll see that nowhere do I make the slightest indication that there should be speed humps on the parkway. I only mention speed humps in relation to streets, which the Arroyo Seco Parkway is not. The Parkway is, as its name indicates, a parkway. I realize this technical difference may have gone over your head.

          • You used an example that had nothing to do with the topic, and offered no viable solution. I was pointing that out, must have gone over your head.

          • A common example that highlights the “enforcement vs infrastructure” debate is certainly related to this, how is it not?

          • Because none of the infrastructure you mentioned is applicable to the issue.

        • Waze is a great app for avoiding Police citations, technology is putting an end to these additional taxations on motorists.

    • Except there is hardly anywhere to pull people over that doesn’t intensify the Imminent Death factor of the 110.

      • Actually the recent work Caltrans did added quite a bit of pull off areas alongside the freeway, especially on the northbound side. Also, there are exits quite closely spaced all along that stretch of the 110.

    • It’s probably difficult for the CHP to find places on that stretch of the 110 to pull over motorists.

    • Yes! Enforcement of the speed limit will reduce crashes

  13. The Pasadena Parkway was designed with 2 lanes. The “Fast lanes” used to be a parkway. Then some genius decided the parkway should be a “Freeway”, Now you have nonthinking drivers going 80 in the fast lanes. Radar and Camera the entire “Parkway” to 55 mph; and someone should sue the City of South Pasadena for thwarting the completion of the 110 for over 40 years. FINISH THE 110. Problem solved, no more traffic on Fremont and Fair Oakes. Too simple for most paid off Pols to figure out.

    • I think you mean 710?

      But I would argue the ROI on that project (several billion to tunnel it) just doesn’t add up. The surface light rail option would be a more prudent use of tax dollars. With some minor tweaks to the local zoning, there’s loads of potential for transit oriented development around the stops.

      Can you really blame Pasadena for fighting a surface freeway through their compact little city over the years… it would’ve just sucked their property values and tax bases right out town, like a straw. Running freeways right through established neighborhoods was just about the dumbest American idea of the last century. Sustainable infrastructure should create urban growth, not stifle it.

  14. I thought it was just an unspoken rule not to drive in the far right lane (or the far left lane when it rains for that matter). I used to live on Ave 43, and there were quite a few nasty wrecks, this wouldn’t be a bad idea, at least from Ave 43 to Marmion.

  15. CalTrans just spent millions making the 110 safer for people driving 65 mph by adding crash barriers, removing trees, etc. They spent hundreds of thousands on community outreach and a huge bunch of plans and reports.

    You want this exit to be safer? Close the bloody exit or start fundraising for the money. Or, try and convince the people in CalTrans to go back and undo all the work they just did to speed up cars on the 110 and instead make it a 45mph zone.

    If you compare this exit with other exits on the freeway system – which has more crashes? Which has more casualties? Which costs more to maintain and build?

    More facts, less whining, please.

    • I’m with you – I’m curious if there actually ARE a higher number of accidents at this on/offramp compared to non-parkway on/offramps.

    • You want facts? Use the northbound avenue 43 exit and entrance on a daily basis for a week. I dare you.

      • It’s really not that big a deal. drivers entering the parkway just need to BE PATIENT, and wait a minute f for a gap in traffic to appear. Same thing when exiting: SLOW DOWN, so that you may exit safely. You want a really shot on ramp? Try Ave. 64, I believe it’s about 10 feet long.

        • Ave 64 is long compared to the southbound York/Salonica entrance, just north of the ave 64 entrance. It is literally a stop sign – you make a 90 degree turn and poof, are on the freeway from a dead stop.
          That said you are right – if you are patient, and wait for no cars, you an get on the freeway safely there.
          The most dangerous conditions I’ve seen on the 110 is when someone can clearly see a car traveling (perhaps too fast) in the right lane, but even though they can see the car and its velocity, they pull out anyway. Either the car in the right lane hits the breaks, gets over, or….accident. But it is the impatient person entering the freeway that is the main driver of the problem.

      • I used to use it to commute through DTLA by car for about two years so I am intimately familiar with this series of ramps. Anecdotes are not sufficient evidence when we’re talking about tearing down portions of a “historic” parkway and spending and awful lot of money in the process.

  16. White people!
    Am I right?!

  17. Here’s a radical idea: close some of the most notorious exits with concrete barriers. This will require people exit where it is more safe to do so and eliminate safety issues at the worst existing locations. This would also relieve some of the neighboring streets from cut-through traffic just trying to get on and off the parkway. It would, unfortunately place a higher burden at the other locations but it would slow cars down at those locations due to the higher number of people exiting there. A positive effect of this, however, is that the slower speeds would mean it would be safer for everyone as they navigate the streets to and from the remaining exits.

  18. Label the lanes: Passing, Driving, Merging.

  19. “DUDE! When we take over Figouroa! Lets turn that lane on the freeway into a bike path!! Duh. Were gonna take over L.A one street at a time!! ” said the too broke for silverlake aparments. Hipster now livin in th Hood (Highland Park)

    • Eh, it actually seems to be the motor happy silver lake expats that drive the most to get places around NELA. Ever ridden the bus around here? There are very few hipsters. Walk? Aside from the art walk, it’s the sidewalks are no hipster haven. Yeah, some of them bike, but most seem to prefer to drive (thus why you hear complaints about lack of parking and too much traffic on the formerly sleepy streets).

      People finally step up to address regional traffic problems and street safety, and you want to dismiss it as a hipster non-issue? Sorry flip-flop, you’ve got this one wrong. If you got off the keyboard and opened your eyes, or just attended one public meeting, you’d see how wrong your baseless and tired assumption is.

  20. This idea will NOT work. People will simply use the lane to go in and out of traffic. That would make the situation even worse.

  21. A good discussion of how the older freeways, designed before people knew how to design freeways, can be improved here: https://letsgola.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/principles-for-freeway-improvements/. Key takeaway should think about removing a few ramps where they’re too close together by modern standards.

  22. Live on Griffin, not too far from Ave 43. Ave 43 is the worse of all all ramps! I can hear the wrecks from my house. Making the right lane an on/off lane isn’t going to help. Measures should be taken to soften the preservation of the parkway on/off ramps and modernize them. They were designed for cars that couldn’t travel more than 40-45 mph. Shouldn’t pubic safety trump historic preservation in this case? Great comments Susan R. and Fakey!…..and the douchy drivers that use the 110 don’t help either.

  23. Just let N Korea nuke us all. we are all messed up anyway.

  24. Just make it a exit only, drive to other entrances to get to pasadena, I have exited on the off ramp many times and yes there only seems to be a small bump on the ground dividing the exit and entrance lanes. I think people just don’t know how their car will react when you are driving and have a sharp right turn. Or you can add a camera and snap pictures away who ever is exiting to fast.

  25. This is a really BAD idea. It would take away a car lane. That would push the rest of the traffic down to only 2 lanes. If you don’t know how to drive the 110 and/or are afaid of it, STAY OFF THE 110!!!!

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