Dodger Stadium’s Neighbors Assail Traffic Proposals
Leaders from several neighborhoods near Dodger Stadium attacked the recommendations in a Los Angeles traffic study this week, charging that it has betrayed its purpose of alleviating stadium and commuter traffic on their streets.
Instead, they said Monday, the proposals would serve regional transportation interests by making the streets through their communities more efficient and, consequently, able to carry more cars.
Their attack centered on a list of proposals submitted in August by DKS Associates, a traffic consultant hired by the city to study traffic problems on freeways and other traffic arteries that pass through the older neighborhoods around Elysian Park.
DKS has proposed about $9 million in improvements--from restriping to widening streets--as short-term solutions and, in the long run, such major projects as the extension of the Glendale Freeway beyond the most heavily congested intersections of Glendale Boulevard.
Reviewing that report with transportation officials and residents Monday, DKS engineer Maurice Mitchell said the improvements, by making major commuter routes such as Stadium Way and Glendale Boulevard run smoother, would discourage motorists from taking side streets to avoid bottlenecks.
But residents said DKS misunderstood their goal, which was to divert traffic from Stadium Way and the Glendale Boulevard corridor.
Representatives of Neighbors of Dodger Stadium, a coalition of the seven residents’ groups, said they found some of the ideas valuable, but disagreed sharply with the consultant’s premise, especially increasing traffic in Elysian Park.
They said their goal is to reduce traffic on Stadium Way and Glendale Boulevard.
“I think where we take issue with you is to what you consider preferred locations for traffic,” resident Jim Bonar said. “We consider the park to be absolutely inappropriate.”
The residents said they are disappointed that the consultant, and city traffic engineers, gave only secondary status to the two proposals that they consider primary: enlarging the restricted interchange between the Golden State and Pasadena freeways, and building a new route from the interchange directly downtown through the Southern Pacific railroad yard.
Although the DKS report supported both ideas, it considered them too complex and costly to count as immediate goals and also raised possible limitations in their effectiveness.
The report noted that the state Department of Transportation is already planning the interchange improvement, but intends to meter the interchange during rush hours to avoid increasing its current capacity.
DKS said a new road into east downtown would be desirable, but would probably not be used by most commuters heading to the west side of downtown.
Instead, the consultant’s report concentrated on short-term improvements to the Stadium Way and Glendale Boulevard routes as the most productive solutions.
Major elements of the plan would be to ease the persistent traffic crunch at the termination of the Glendale Freeway by widening portions of both Glendale Boulevard and Alvarado Street, where they join about half a mile south of the freeway terminus.
The added width would contribute to the eventual extension of the freeway beyond the troublesome Glendale/Alvarado intersection, DKS said.
Bonar said residents would consider construction of a more efficient ending of the freeway, with sunken connections to both Glendale and Alvarado, but would find an extension intolerable.
“If that doesn’t run counter to the objectives we’ve stated here, then we’re not talking the same language,” Bonar said at Monday’s meeting.
The disagreements emerged from an expansion in scope of the $50,000 study after the Los Angeles City Council ordered it in June, 1986, in response to residents’ complaints about Dodger Stadium traffic.
After six months of preliminary discussions, the city’s Department of Transportation determined that residents were equally concerned with commuter traffic on their streets, said Tom Conner, principal traffic engineer for the city Department of Transportation.
Scope of Study Recalled
The contract signed with DKS in June, 1987, specified that the consultant examine both Dodger traffic and the daily rush hours.
Although conceding that lower than usual attendance last summer may have affected the traffic counts of Dodger games monitored by DKS engineers, the consultant’s initial report, released last fall, generally downplayed the severity of disruption caused by Dodger traffic.
Mitchell said he observed only minor congestion at the four key intersections around the stadium after games.
Residents said they support dozens of minor street modifications offered by DKS to move Dodger traffic more swiftly, but found themselves at philosophical odds with the consultant’s approach to the more fundamental traffic problems.
In a wish list of possible improvements prepared early this summer, DKS focused on three primary bottlenecks responsible for the disruption of residential neighborhoods.
They were the backup at the Golden State/Pasadena interchange, diverting frustrated motorists onto the Stadium Way and Glendale Boulevard routes; an awkward jog in Stadium Way in the middle of Elysian Park, diverting many cars onto residential streets, and the terminus of the Glendale Freeway.
DKS suggested straightening the jog on Stadium Way, adding lanes at key points on Glendale Boulevard and, eventually, extending the Glendale Freeway south to bypass the most heavily congested intersections of Glendale Boulevard.
Residents opposed all three ideas, most strenuously objecting to improvements that would bring more cars along Glendale Boulevard, which, they say, already poses a major obstacle to travel within their communities.
“What you’re doing is making a bigger barrier to bifurcate Echo Park and the Silver Lake areas,” said Bennett Kayser of the Echo Park Renters and Homeowners’ Assn.
Kayser, a slow-growth advocate who is challenging Councilman Michael Woo in next year’s municipal election, said he fears that the study could be used by other agencies to justify future development on the basis that more traffic can be brought through the Glendale Boulevard corridor.
“There has to be a statement that says, perhaps, there is no mitigation to this without creating further disruption to the community, and our recommendation is that on a regional basis, that development or encouragement of traffic needs to be reduced so that we’re not drawing more people in from La Crescenta and the Valley.”
Kayser said the residents will write a minority report to be delivered with the DKS documents to the City Council, which is scheduled to consider the proposals in October.