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No decision made on Olive-Verdugo-Sparks intersection project

No decision made on Olive-Verdugo-Sparks intersection project
Burbank city planners will have to gather additional information from residents on how to improve the Olive-Verdugo-Sparks intersection. (File Photo)

It’s back to the drawing board for Burbank city planners for a complicated intersection improvement project.

The City Council unanimously voted during a meeting on Tuesday to table its discussion on how the intersection at Olive and Verdugo avenues as well as Sparks Street should be reconfigured to improve safety and traffic in that neighborhood.

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Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy and council members Tim Murphy and Bob Frutos agreed that additional community input is needed to develop a better layout for that intersection, which is one of the most heavily traveled areas in the city — not for just vehicles but also pedestrians and bicyclists.

David Kriske, the city’s assistant community development director of transportation, said Olive carries between 22,000 and 25,000 vehicles daily and Verdugo sees about 13,000 cars per day through that intersection. Sparks sees about 1,500 vehicles each day, he said, which is on the high end for a residential street.

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In addition to vehicles, about 2,000 pedestrians and 200 bicyclists travel through the intersection daily, which is mainly due to the area’s proximity to John Burroughs High School.

The three council members were impressed by a professional-grade rendering created by resident Candice Myers, who drafted what she thought would be a better alternative compared to the suggestions recommended by city staff.

In her design, Verdugo west of Olive would directly feed onto Olive, giving motorists the option to make either a left or right turn onto that street. At that intersection would also be a scramble, or diagonal crosswalk, which is similar to the one found in Old Pasadena on Colorado Boulevard. Verdugo east of Olive would then feed onto Beachwood Drive.

Because Verdugo would no longer be a continuously joined street, Myers suggested creating a small parking lot and community space just east of the Starbucks on Olive.

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To create a safer neighborhood and reduce the amount of cut-through traffic on residential streets, Myers’ plan involves creating multiple cul-de-sacs — two on Sparks north of Olive near the Chase bank, two on Sparks south of Olive past the Starbucks, two on Reese Place south of Olive and two on Beachwood near Burbank Fire Department Station No. 15.

“When you take a community member that takes their time to do this, I believe we owe it to them to partner [them] with our city staff to improve these options,” Frutos said while holding a hard copy of Myers’ intersection design. “I really believe that there’s enough information here that I cannot make a good decision on any of these options.”

The preferred option by city staff members eliminates the current traffic signal where all three streets meet and realign Verdugo in a manner where Verdugo would feed onto Olive rather than intersect it. Two new traffic signals would be installed where Verdugo and Olive meet at the east and west ends.

That option also adds a median on Olive at Sparks, which would restrict motorists to making a right turn only from Sparks onto Olive.

The plan also would add two public spaces, one in front of the LensCrafters and another just east of Starbucks.

However, many residents told the City Council that going with that plan would just spread traffic onto other residential streets.

Vice Mayor Sharon Springer and Councilman Jess Talamantes favored another option Kriske presented, which is similar to the city staff’s preferred option but keeps the existing traffic signal at Olive, Verdugo and Sparks.

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