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Lack of Signs Might Send Some Astray

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Traffic Talk:

It seems that common sense takes a back seat to bureaucracy when it comes comes to freeway markings. Case in point:

I just returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where the freeways are a jumble, but well-marked.

Destinations as well as intermediate locations were repeated every two miles.

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Leaving LAX and getting on the San Diego freeway going north, the only locations listed for several miles were Sacramento and Santa Monica.

What happens to tourists?

If they are good map readers they will find their destination. Otherwise they may wind up in Bakersfield before getting wise. Why aren’t there more signs put closer together?

I would hope some improvement to the highways could be made for this.

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Sidney Goldstein

Calabasas

Dear Sidney:

According to Caltrans spokeswoman Pat Reid, there are space and regulatory limitations to consider when placing signs. Signs are posted to alert drivers of all highway exits and major destinations.

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Caltrans must follow federal government guidelines as to what is the appropriate distance between signs on state highways. There are also clutter constraints; motorists can get confused if signs are too close to one another.

Ground-level signs have to be at least 400 feet apart while signs that hang above freeways must be at least 800 feet apart, Reid said.

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Dear Traffic Talk:

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I live in Panorama City. Who would I contact about getting a traffic light installed?

I live off of Van Nuys Boulevard on Chase Street. I am in a wheelchair and I often need to cross Chase. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost been plowed down. Once I was crossing right on Tilden Avenue from Chase Street. One woman was already killed here in this intersection a few months ago. I was thinking that someone could put in a pedestrian walking signal. My dog also got hit and died on this street. I have seen many near-misses. Please give any information you can so I can pursue this matter. I would appreciate it very much.

Dolores Carmona

Panorama City

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Dear Dolores:

When someone wants to request a traffic light at a specific intersection, he or she should contact the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

In the Valley there are two bureaus, one east, one west. The east bureau handles transportation issues east of the San Diego Freeway and the west bureau handles transportation problems west of the San Diego Freeway.

After determining the location of the traffic problem, one must submit a letter that explains the particular situation and why a traffic signal is needed.

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After the department receives the letter and views the site, a traffic study must then be conducted.

The traffic study will collect information that includes the number of accidents in the intersection and the daily number of cars traveling through the intersection, according to a Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The duration of the studies vary and the entire process, from when the request is made to when the light is installed, can take one year or more, the spokeswoman said.

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Traffic Talk appears Fridays in The Times Valley Edition. Readers may submit comments and questions about traffic in the Valley to Traffic Talk, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted. To record your comments, call (818) 772-3303. Fax letters to (818) 772-3385. E-mail questions to valley@latimes.com


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