City Council Commends Caltrans for Easing Congestion

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The Caltrans representatives who showed up at Tuesday’s City Council meeting got a much warmer and much less-attended welcome than when they visited in February.
Previously, those representatives fielded complaints from council members and residents alike about the slowing that the $148.5-million pavement rehabilitation project on the 210 Freeway was causing on suddenly jammed surface streets throughout La Cañada Flintridge.
Almost three months later, efforts Caltrans made to mitigate the traffic being funneled onto LCF streets seems largely to have worked.
Farhad Iranitalab, the city’s traffic engineer, credited improved transition lanes associated with temporarily closed on- and-off-ramps, “so people wouldn’t be confused and the flow would be better.”
The installation of portable, changeable message signs warning people of traffic on Foothill Boulevard as they approached LCF on the 2 and 210 freeways seems to have steered drivers away from LCF streets, Iranitalab said.
Furthermore, he commended Caltrans for changing the timing on the traffic lights on the Foothill Boulevard exit (off the 2 Freeway) and Briggs Avenue exist, lengthening the duration of time that the light is green for those driving west on Foothill.
“That means people have to wait longer [to get onto Foothill], so they won’t come take that route,” Iranitalab said.
“Overall,” he said, “traffic has been improving.”
So much so that he was compelled to compliment the Caltrans team on its efforts.
“I’d like to thank Caltrans for being so responsive,” he said. “I’ve worked with Caltrans for 35 years and this is the first time they’ve being so responsive. Within two weeks, all of our recommendations were enacted.”
Still, the work on the project — which is set to continue until January 2018 — is ongoing.
Starting on Wednesday, May 3, Caltrans was to begin making temporary lane changes along the westbound 210 Freeway between Berkshire and Ocean View Boulevard. Construction crews planned to restripe and shift lanes toward the median. Both eastbound and westbound inner shoulders will be used as traffic lanes, with a concrete barrier separating the eastbound traffic and the westbound bypass lane.
Elsewhere, if work continues at its current pace, the currently closed eastbound on-ramp at Berkshire Avenue as well as the eastern off-ramp at Arroyo Boulevard should be open again by 5 a.m. on May 20, according to Karina Vargas, Caltrans spokeswoman.
If they are, it should go a long way toward alleviating traffic during a confluence of major events in the area during that May 20-21 weekend.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors are reportedly expected, as rock band U2 plays two shows at the Rose Bowl, the Amgen Tour of California cycling race finishes in front of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and Jet Propulsion Laboratory hosts its annual open house — for which it has released 18,000 tickets per day.
Councilman Jonathan Curtis added a word of warning to his fellow motorists (not borne of any personal experience, he said): “The Highway Patrol is out there,” he said. “If you’re going faster than 55 mph in the construction zone you will get pulled over and it’s a very expensive ticket.”

CRIME CONCERNS
The conversation community members would prefer not to be having at all continued at Tuesday’s meeting, where several residents spoke of burglaries in the city, and, in one case, inquired about whether a city police force would make sense for LCF.
It would not, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Blasnek said, defending his department.
“It’s not going to make a difference having your own police department,” he said. “This is not a La Cañada Flintridge problem [only], this is throughout the San Gabriel Valley, everyone is experiencing the same thing, even … people in Thousand Oaks, all the way in Ventura County. These people have wheels, and they’re getting around.”
At council members’ urging, Blasnek also described benefits of being among the cities that contracts the sheriff’s department.
“There are more than 80 cities in L.A. County, and 44 are covered by the sheriff’s department,” Blasnek said. “It’s very expensive for a city of 22,000 to have its own SWAT team, its own narcotics team, its own arson and explosives team.
“Once in a while, we need these specialized teams, but do we need them every day, 24 hours a day, paying them? Or just on a need basis? That’s what we’re doing; I have a specialized team that is assisting me now [on burglaries] that has years and years of research and experience behind them.
“I want the City Council and residents to know that the extra patrols are in place, the extra coverage is in place,” Blasnek added. “And I’m fairly confident that by communicating with our sister cities, we’re going to be very successful in the near future.”

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