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Road Safety, Speed Limit Increases on Schizophrenic T-Committee Agenda

9:12 AM PST on November 8, 2010

View Speed Limit Increases, LA City Council 11/10/10 in a larger map

At this point, you have to feel bad for the City Council when it comes to the issue of raising speed limits. Despite the pleas from community groups and road users, the Council feels stuck when the LAPD and state law are telling them that the benefits of raising the limits on certain local roads outweigh the costs. As we've covered in the past, state law requires that every seven years municipalities that use radar to enforce speed limits do speed surveys and adjust the speed limit to the eighty-fifth percentile.

Efforts to change the state law have run in to opposition from the California Highway Patrol, AAA and other speeding traffic advocates and have never escaped one of Asm. Mike Eng's transportation committee hearing. Thus, this Wednesday, the City Council Transportation Committee is faced with the sad task of voting on whether to increase speed limits on five streets in the Valley. You can read the full list of proposed increases on the agenda, or visit my Google map above to see what local streets are due for a bump in car traffic speed.

Ironically, listed right after the increases on the agenda is a report from the LADOT on their plans pedestrian safety applications for federal "Highway Safety Improvement Projects" funds.  In an effort to be more involved in project planning in their districts, Council Members Bill Rosendahl and Bernard Parks asked LADOT to continue to update the Council throughout the application process.

Most of the projects listed are to install traffic lights or widen sidewalks.  One is a road widening in the name of "congestion relief."  Three others are actually more interesting and complex projects that might one day be responsible for maintaining or lowering a speed limit in the future.  Not coincidentally, two of those three projects are in Parks' and Rosendahl's districts.

Standing at the intersection of 11th Ave and 48th Street, looking east.
Standing at the intersection of 11th Ave and 48th Street, looking east.

The first is in Parks' South Los Angeles District.  The project would cost $750,000 and the city is asking for $675,000 of those funds.  What make it interesting is that the LADOT is proposing a road diet and bike lanes for 48th Street between Normandie and the city limits as well as a two-way left turn lane at 48th and 11th. Another road diet? This is the third time this year we're discussing Road Diets and LADOT in the same breath. in addition to the "famous" diet on Wilbur Avenue in the valley, there was also a diet on James M. Wood Boulevard.

The second highlighted project falls in Jan Perry's District along the Central Avenue Corridor Project between Slauson and Washington Boulevard.  The city is asking for over $800,000 to widen sidewalks and improve pedestrian crossings at ten intersections along Central Avenue.  Bulbouts, smart crosswalks, sounds like the CRA, the sponsor for the project, is trying to "Portlandize" this slice of South L.A. with the goal of making pedestrian's lives a little safer and encouraging more people to use transit.

The third project that works outside the box is in Bill Rosendahl's 11th Council District.  The project would basically recreate the sidewalk along a stretch of Entrada Avenue and identify and improve the best crossings along the road.  The project has a low budget of $1 million, and city is hoping the federal government will pitch in 90% of those funds.

Poor Paul Koretz.  He's stuck with the road widening project as the soul applicant for his District.

All in all, the LADOT's proposed list of federal grant applications looks pretty good.  Of course, a list of projects is only as good as their applications.  Hopefully, LADOT (and its partners with the Community Redevelopment Agency and Bureau of Street Services) can bring home the bacon and make these corridors and intersections a better place to live, play and walk.

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