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Jockeying for Ramps Slows Traffic on Freeway Stretch

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

My question regards the Costa Mesa Freeway at the Garden Grove Freeway junction. Traffic is always slow on the northbound Costa Mesa Freeway before the Garden Grove Freeway interchange, and after the freeway junction, traffic flow returns to normal.

The problem seems to be everyone merging over into one lane to get on the Garden Grove Freeway going west, which has a two-lane transition. Why doesn’t Caltrans add an additional “exit-only” right lane on the northbound Costa Mesa Freeway after 17th Street designated for traffic wanting to merge onto the Garden Grove Freeway?

It seems logical that if the transition has two lanes, we might as well use it for our benefit and have two lanes leading into it.

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I sincerely feel this would alleviate much of the congestion through this area.

Nancy May

Santa Ana

The traffic slowdown at that spot is not solely due to traffic lining up in the right lane to get on the Garden Grove Freeway, said Rose Orem, a Caltrans spokeswoman.

It also is the result of drivers getting into the right lane to take Chapman Avenue, the exit immediately after the Garden Grove Freeway exit, she said.

Another slow-down factor is all the eastbound Garden Grove Freeway traffic that empties onto the Costa Mesa Freeway and wants to merge to the No. 4 lane to exit at Chapman Avenue.

The Chapman exit is to be relocated in the next phase of the Costa Mesa Freeway improvement project.

It will be moved south of the Garden Grove Freeway exit and have its own off-freeway lane, so Chapman exiters won’t compete for the right lane with drivers turning onto the Garden Grove.

However, this project is in the design stages and has no funding for construction, Orem said.

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Dear Street Smart:

Why is the right-turn lane on southbound Beach Boulevard at Manchester Avenue in Buena Park blocked off?

Mario Luna

Fullerton

Caltrans engineers closed the right-turn-only lane because the turning angle was too sharp for drivers to make a safe turn, Rose Orem said. But a rehabilitation of Beach Boulevard beginning March 20 will include a redesign of that right-turn lane.

The entire construction project, from the Riverside Freeway to Stage Road, is expected to be finished by mid-April barring rain delays, Orem said.

Dear Street Smart:

I would like to comment on the southbound left-turn signal on Cabot Road at Oso Parkway. It seems that the signal remains on for an inordinate length of time (at least 22-plus seconds; I have timed it) after the last car has cleared the intersection.

I wondered if you could check with whatever authority is in charge of that particular signal or if you would tell me who to contact. I will gladly make the call.

Miles Hashizumi

Laguna Niguel

Hold the phone. The Laguna Hills traffic engineering department is on the case, and if all goes according to plan, the signal will be back to its old timely self within two weeks at the most.

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Cabot Road’s signal detector loops (the wiring embedded in the roadway that activates the signal lights) were turned off while contractors did some local trench work, said Ken Rosenfield, Laguna Hills traffic engineer. During this underground work, one of the contractors damaged some pipes, thus delaying the project’s completion.

City engineers are interviewing contractors to determine who is responsible for repairing the pipes. When the repairs are made, most likely within the next two weeks, the detector loops for Cabot Road can be turned back on.

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The California Highway Patrol wants to remind drivers that tinted vehicle windows are hazards and are illegal with few exceptions. Drivers are responsible for knowing what is appropriate and legal, said Officer Bruce Lian, a CHP spokesman based at the San Juan Capistrano office.

Applied tinting is illegal on the windshield and front driver’s and passenger’s sides, Lian said.

Applied tinting is legal on windows behind the driver if the car has a right side-view mirror. Factory-installed windows, where a specific amount of tinting is baked into the glass, also is legal. Sun-sensitive motorists with a letter from a physician or surgeon can have tinted windows as long as the tinting device can be removed for night driving, Lian said.

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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