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Construction Should End the Problems at a Troublesome Turn

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

I wonder why there is only one left-turn lane from eastbound Barranca Parkway onto northbound Jamboree Road. The presence of many businesses and discount stores on Von Karman Avenue, and the necessity to divert traffic east or west because of the Marine helicopter base create an enormous backlog of traffic turning north onto Jamboree.

Which authority decides when a heavy traffic warrants two left-turn lanes?

Hanna Hill

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Irvine

After 10 years of going through the design, approval, funding and contract-bidding stages, construction began Oct. 17 to widen Barranca Parkway and Jamboree Road, said city traffic engineer Bonnie Burton.

When construction is completed, Barranca will have six through lanes with dual left-turn lanes in all directions, Burton said. Jamboree Road will have eight through lanes with dual left-turn lanes in all directions, she said.

Construction should be complete by mid-May, barring any delays or potential funding constraints.

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Dear Street Smart:

I have been traveling north on Newport Boulevard through Costa Mesa from Lido Island for a number of years. I am one of the many hundreds of morning commuters frustrated by an improperly coordinated traffic light at Newport Boulevard and 16th Street.

This light is set in such a manner as to make it impossible to hit the green at the next light, which is 17th Street. The 17th Street light can be seen from 16th, and as 16th turns green, 17th turns red about five seconds later.

This is the only badly set light in the downtown system. If 16th were re-timed to turn green instead of red about five seconds before 17th, the traffic flow would be vastly improved, to say nothing of the state of mind of the drivers. Can you help?

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Malcolm A. Schneer

Newport Beach

I’m afraid not. Caltrans, which has jurisdiction here, maintains that the lights are synchronized in the best possible way to handle the flow of traffic. Here’s their thinking:

The signals on northbound Newport Boulevard are synchronized for the corridor from Coast Highway to 19th Street, said Rose Orem, a Caltrans spokeswoman. The system is programmed to accommodate the higher traffic volumes on both 17th Street and Newport Boulevard.

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Side streets, like 16th and 17th, have signals set to respond only upon traffic demand, Orem said. Because 17th Street is more heavily traveled than 16th Street, the light turns green more frequently.

Because 16th Street has less traffic, fewer green lights are needed.

Synchronizing the lights at 16th and 17th streets actually would mean more stops for people on Newport Boulevard, Orem said.

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The public still has time to send in opinions regarding the implementation of Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent transportation sales tax approved by voters in 1990. Written comments must be received by Jan. 27 and should be addressed to the Measure M Citizens Oversight Committee, 550 S. Main St., P.O. Box 14184, Orange, CA, 92613-1584. Fax comments will also be accepted at (714) 560-5795.

The committee held its annual public hearing earlier this month, but many people were unable to attend because of heavy rains and flooded streets and freeways. The call for written comments is intended to give residents another opportunity to participate.

For more information, call Jill Terry in Orange County Transportation Authority’s Community Relations Department at (714) 560-5725.

Street Smart appears Mondays in The Times Orange County Edition. Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about traffic, commuting and what makes it difficult to get around in Orange County. Include simple sketches if helpful. Letters may be published in upcoming columns. Please write to Caroline Lemke, c/o Street Smart, The Times Orange County, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626. Include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted.

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