Midday can be deceptive at the worst intersection in Orange County.
Cars line up along Moulton Parkway and wait patiently for the light to turn green at Laguna Hills Drive. And on any quiet winter afternoon, barely a rude horn is sounded.
Come rush hour, though, this Dr. Jekyll of an otherwise normal street crossing can suddenly and fiendishly transform into a Mr. Hyde traffic jam--the kind that frays the nerves of most drivers and leaves county transportation officials scratching their heads over what to do about it.
“It’s bad,” said John Keene, an Aliso Viejo father whose 3 1/2-year-old daughter spends several days a week at Aliso Viejo Kindercare, a child-care center right at this corner. “It’s congested all the way; it backs way up.”
That’s why the intersection of Moulton Parkway and Laguna Hills Drive made Orange County’s list of the 10 most congested intersections, according to a report released Monday by the Orange County Transportation Authority.
Other intersections among the worst include three in Laguna Hills--Alicia Parkway at Paseo de Valencia; Los Alisos Boulevard at Paseo de Valencia; and Moulton Parkway at Alicia Parkway. Another is Katella Avenue at Magnolia Avenue at the north edge of Garden Grove.
“Surface streets play an important role in the overall transportation network of the county and intersections are kind of at the heart of that,” said OCTA spokesman John Standiford.
County officials rate the intersections much the way teachers rank students, Standiford said: with grades ranging from A to F.
An A signifies that an intersection is running at no greater than 60% of its vehicle capacity during peak hours, with free-flowing traffic and little or no delay.
An F, on the other hand, means that it’s running at 100% or more of capacity with “stop and go traffic” and “backups downstream,” according to OCTA.
Of the estimated 2,000 intersections in Orange County, according to the report, 34 received F ratings in 1996.
But some relief is in sight.
The good news, said is that about $34.5 million in Measure M funds has already been set aside to improve all but three of the worst intersections countywide.
“The reason we came to the board with this report was to highlight that something is being done about these intersections,” he said.
Planned improvements, some of which are already underway, include re-striping, traffic signal coordination, widening and adding turn pockets and bus turnouts.
“Cities are doing a commendable job at making this a priority and being very aggressive at improving intersections,” Standiford said.
The county’s three intersections that have not yet been funded for improvement are Fairview Street at MacArthur Boulevard in Santa Ana, Magnolia Street at Cerritos Avenue in Stanton and Brookhurst Street at Adams Avenue in Huntington Beach. All three are likely to be fixed in the next few years, Standiford said.
Those changes can’t be made fast enough for some commuters, such as the motorists reflecting recently on their experiences at Alicia Parkway and Paseo de Valencia--the county’s second-worst crossing.
“Sometimes it takes a lot of time to get out of this parking lot,” said Tom Sivcovich, a mail carrier who makes daily stops at Alicia Valencia Plaza at the corner. “I sit here and wait and wait and wait--it gets pretty backed up.”
Like many other commuters, Laguna Hills resident Sam Davis has learned to make the best of it.
“I don’t pay much attention,” said Davis, 48, a sales representative who spends lots of time in his car.
“It’s a fact of life; what are you going to do? Welcome to Orange County.”
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Car Cramps Thirty-four intersections in Orange County are congested beyond designed traffic load during morning and evening rush hours. Here are the intersections, listed with most congested first: RANK / INTERSECTION LOCATION
1. Moulton Parkway / Laguna Hills Drive, county
2. Alicia Parkway / Paseo de Valencia, Laguna Hills
3. Los Alisos Boulevard / Paseo de Valencia, Laguna Hills
4. Moulton Parkway / Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills
5. katella Avenue / Magnolia Avenue, Garden Grove / Stanton
6. Jeffrey Road / Portola Parkway, county
7. Birch Street / Bristol Street, Newport Beach
8. Beach Boulevard / Artesia Boulevard, Buena Park
9. La Veta Avenue / Glassell Street, Orange
10. Laguna Canyon Road / El Toro Road, county
11. Bristol Street / 17th Street, Santa Ana
12. Brookhurst Street / Westminster Avenue, Garden Grove
13. Avenida de la Carlota / Paseo de Valencia, county
14. Fairview Street / Edinger Avenue, Santa Ana
15. Warner Avenue / Euclid Street,Fountain Valley
16. Paseo de Valencia / Laguna Hills Drive, Laguna Hills
17. Imperial Highway / La Palma Avenue, Anaheim
18. Oso Parkway / Cabot Road, Laguna Hills
19. Beach Boulevard / Orangethrope Avenue, Buena Park
20. El Toro Road / Trabuco Road, Lake Forest
21. Katella Avenue / Valley View Street, Cypress
22. Fairview Street / MacArthur Boulevard, Santa Ana
23. Main Street / Chapman Avenue, Orange
24. Pacific Coast Highway / Seal Beach Boulevard, Seal Beach
25. Pacific Coast Highway / Warner Avenue, Huntington Beach
26. Tustin Street / Santa Ana Canyon Road, Orange
27. Von Karman Avenue / Alton Parkway, Irvine
28. Moulton Parkway / Oso Parkway, Laguna Hills
29. Brookhurst Street / Warner Avenue, Fountain Valley 30. Irvine Boulevard / Newport Avenue, Tustin
31. Cerritos Avenue / Magnolia Street, Stanton
32. Moulton Parkway / El Toro Road, county
33. Brookhurst Street / Adams Avenue, Huntington Beach
34. Newport Boulevard / 17th Street, Newport Beach