Town Hall Focuses on Traffic Solutions

Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne explains at a town hall meeting this week how he hopes to address select traffic issues in San Marino and solicits ideas from residents.
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne explains at a town hall meeting this week how he hopes to address select traffic issues in San
Marino and solicits ideas from residents.

Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne is working to refine proposals on how San Marino can use up to $32 million in no-strings-attached Metropolitan Transportation Authority money to try to alleviate roadway congestion and stray traffic on residential streets.
In doing so, Throne is hoping to target five areas identified by Metro as problem areas, but in a way that caters more to residents’ preferences than what the agency initially proposed as alternatives to its now-dead 710 Freeway tunnel. Emphasizing the point, Throne told a standing-room-only crowd at the city’s monthly town hall meeting in Crowell Public Library’s Barth Room that Metro’s alternative proposals were “not going to work for a second in San Marino.”
“These project proposals do not involve eliminating parking,” he added. “It might have something to do with — for instance on Huntington [Drive] — moving parking further away from the roadway in order to make it more efficient. If anything, looking at some of these areas, we could add more parking.”
In lieu of the tunnel, Metro is doling out its taxpayer dollars to communities that would have been affected by the project for their own traffic enhancement efforts, with the goal of achieving effectively the same thing: making it easier for motorists to navigate the myriad West San Gabriel Valley roadways.
Throne said the priorities were addressing select left turns on Huntington Drive that back up into travel lanes, modifying Huntington parkways near school sites to prevent parked cars from impeding travel lanes, calming traffic up and down Sierra Madre Boulevard and installing traffic signal synchronization across Huntington and San Gabriel Boulevard.
“These projects are proposals that Metro has said, ‘They look good. We’ll reserve you several buckets of money for this. Go forth and see what your community needs,’” Throne explained. “I’ve gotten a lot of really great ‘Don’ts,’ but what I’m really interested in is the ‘Do’s.’”
Residents were ready with ideas.
John Morris wondered if the city could work with Pasadena to install signal synchronization on Sierra Madre Boulevard to manage motorists driving haphazardly on a tricky stretch of the road. Eileen Hale, a former member of the city’s since-disbanded Traffic Advisory Commission, suggested having two right-turn lanes from southbound Sierra Madre onto westbound Huntington to prevent undue traffic crossing into San Marino Avenue, which is more of a residential street.
Most urgently discussed was the “mess of an intersection,” as Throne described it, on the west end of town where Huntington, Atlantic Boulevard, Garfield Avenue and Los Robles Avenue form an unwieldy triangle-shaped intersection with severe turn restrictions. The layout of the intersection most infamously sends motorists traveling north on Atlantic across Huntington onto Los Robles, which turns the residential street into a parking lot every morning.
Numerous residents appeared to support an idea of allowing left turns from the Atlantic-Huntington intersection essentially onto northbound Garfield. (Atlantic and Garfield intersect just south of Huntington and allow a left turn onto northbound Garfield.) Throne pointed out that San Marino is the lead engineering city on potential improvements at this intersection — which the city shares with South Pasadena and Alhambra — something he specifically asked for to give the city a bigger say at the table.
“Los Robles is not supposed to be a road for that,” Throne said, agreeing with the complaining residents. “Garfield is more for that kind of traffic.”
Lee Benuska, a retired civil and structural engineer, expressed concern that the projects would result only in worse traffic in San Marino because of the perceived ease of travel on Huntington Drive, a worry shared by a significant number of residents.
“Some of these changes are really not reversible,” he said. “This will just further bisect our city and we’ll have a South San Marino and a North San Marino.”

Leave a Reply