It was early Saturday morning. The entire town seemed to be snuggled at home, warm in their PJs, while a few members of the Sunland-Tujunga Safe Streets Committee met at Back Door Bakery to take a drive.
We met with LADOT transportation engineer Tim Fremaux. The plan was to take a drive up and down Foothill Boulevard while locating and discussing dangerous traffic areas in our neighborhood. We drove Foothill Boulevard from Tujunga to Lake View Terrace. We stopped at locations where people had lost their lives. We asked questions. Fremaux gave answers, based on research that has recently been recorded by the Department of Transportation.
So far, recent speed surveys on Foothill Boulevard reveal that we should raise our city speed limit 5 mph on Foothill Boulevard. Would raising the speed limit be a solution to our traffic tragedies? Fremaux informed us that the speed surveys were simply the first step in LADOT’s research of our city streets. Before any speed limit might be changed, Fremaux and his Vision Zero team will be taking the next venture into our traffic solutions: engineering changes.
Vision Zero engineers plan to make physical changes to our streets, including restriping traffic lanes and crosswalks and installing traffic delineators and bollards. After these changes are made (a process which may take up to a year), the speed surveys will be reshot with hope that the physical changes along our roads will have helped slow us down, preventing the need for a speed limit increase.
One major road change that LADOT has planned for us is a reduction of traffic lanes on Foothill Boulevard, starting at the end of Sunland Park and heading into Lake View Terrace. There are currently two lanes of traffic heading east and west through this area. LADOT wants to take it down to one, adding a bike lane and a buffer lane between the two.
This lane reduction sparked immediate disapproval from visitors at our Safe Streets meeting. Recent lane reductions on Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima have been met with outrage in their community. Fremaux reminded us that the section of road they plan on changing on Foothill Boulevard does not meet half the volume that Van Nuys Boulevard does; therefore, the lane reduction will not hurt traffic as much as it will provide an extra, safer lane for cyclists and horse riders.
While Vision Zero appears to be making some of their biggest changes in Lake View Terrace, my main concern has been Foothill Boulevard in Sunland. I know families who walk these sidewalks every day, taking their children to and from the park and school. I discussed with Fremaux my frustration with speeders using parking lanes, bike lanes and the median to pass other cars. Fremaux informed me that my issues can and will be met with easy, inexpensive physical changes. Plastic traffic delineators and botch dots installed in the appropriate places along Foothill Blvd. will help steer speeders away from driving in areas where they do not belong. Fremaux hopes that he and his team will be making these changes as soon as next month.
I would like to invite you all to like Sunland-Tujunga Safe Streets on Facebook. Consider the post of our next meeting an invitation. Come to our meeting. Share with us your insight. Changes are currently being made and what you add to our discussion might save a life. Be there on the second Saturday of the month at 11 a.m. at North Valley City Hall on 7747 Foothill Boulevard in Tujunga.