Mayor James K. Hahn unveiled a plan Tuesday to improve 25 congested and unsafe intersections in the next year, and touted his accomplishments in adding traffic lights, turn lanes and pedestrian warning lights to other dangerous intersections over the last three years.
Hahn, who faces a tough reelection contest, announced the latest phase of street improvements at the intersection of Venice Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, where the city plans to install a left-turn arrow. In the last 18 months, he said, eight accidents occurred there when drivers tried to turn left.
“Mobility is a big, big issue here in Los Angeles,” Hahn said. “People need to get to where they’re going. They need to get there as quickly as possible, but also as safely as possible.”
Other projects include a new traffic light to slow cars on 1st Street between Meyler Street and Western Avenue in San Pedro, a left-turn arrow for Sherman Way at Kester Avenue in Van Nuys and pedestrian warning lights on Normandie Avenue at 59th Street in South L.A.
The city has sought to modify 25 of its 40,000 intersections a year, city officials said. The improvements, which cost about $1 million each year, are paid out of the city’s general fund and its share of the state gas tax.
Problem traffic areas were identified by individual citizens and neighborhood councils, as well as the city Department of Transportation and members of the City Council.
“These are locations where we have identified that we can make a difference,” said John Fisher, assistant general manager of the Transportation Department. “There are locations in the city that may have some delays or congestion where we can’t make immediate improvements because maybe the street needs to be widened or the action costs significant sums of money.”
At least one of the mayor’s opponents criticized him for exaggerating the impact of the traffic enhancements.
“It’ll take 160 years at this pace to get to all of them,” said John Shallman, campaign manager for mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg, a former Assembly speaker from Sherman Oaks. “Jim Hahn’s approach is like cutting grass one blade at a time.”
One of the city’s planned improvements -- warning lights that will flash when a pedestrian steps off the curb to cross Western Avenue at 37th Place -- met with enthusiastic approval from several residents.
“I think it’s really needed,” said Fernando Reveles, 18, who lives half a block from the intersection. “Kids are passing by every day,” he said, pointing to the nearby schoolyard at Foshay Learning Center.
“They don’t stop,” Reveles said of drivers near the crosswalk. “They don’t pay attention.”
At an Arlington Heights intersection where the city installed a left-turn signal last year, residents said that traffic has gotten a little more orderly.
For the last five years, Wasim Siddiqui, 25, has driven north on Crenshaw Boulevard and turned left onto Washington Boulevard to get to his job at the M&A; Market on the corner.
“It’s a very busy intersection,” he said. “Before, you had to wait for all the cars to go by and you’d be the last one through.”
Siddiqui estimates that he used to wait about four minutes in the left turn lane to get onto Washington Boulevard and now he only waits one minute.
Still, he added, the intersection could use more improvements to handle the heavy traffic flow from the Santa Monica Freeway.
“When I make the left turn, there’s not enough time,” Siddiqui said. “Only two cars can get through.”
Times staff writer Jessica Garrison contributed to this report.
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Intersections scheduled for improvement
The city spends about $1 million a year to improve intersections. Here are 25 slated in the next year.
SAN FERNANDO VALLEY
Studio City -- Coldwater Canyon Drive at Mulholland Drive, left-turn arrow project; Laurel Canyon Boulevard at Mulholland Drive, left-turn arrow project
Woodland Hills -- Platt Avenue at Haynes Street, new traffic signal project
North Hills -- Parthenia Street at Orion Avenue, pedestrian warning project
Van Nuys -- Sherman Way at Kester Avenue, left-turn arrow project
Sunland -- Sunland Boulevard at Fenwick Street, left-turn arrow project
Northridge -- Tampa Avenue at Plummer Street, left-turn arrow project
Woodland Hills -- Valley Circle Boulevard at Calabasas Road, right-turn lane project
North Hollywood -- Vineland Avenue at Magnolia Boulevard, left-turn arrow project
Park La Brea -- Beverly Boulevard at Formosa Avenue, pedestrian warning project
Mar Vista -- Inglewood Boulevard at Allin Street, new traffic signal project
West Los Angeles -- Wilshire Boulevard at Bundy Avenue, left-turn arrow project
Boyle Heights -- State Street at Bridge Street, pedestrian warning project; Indiana Street at Percy Street, new traffic signal project
NORTHEAST LOS ANGELES
Lincoln Heights -- Daly Street and North Broadway, left-turn arrow project
Glassell Park -- San Fernando Road at Fletcher Drive, left-turn arrow project
CENTRAL LOS ANGELES
Downtown -- Los Angeles Street and Winston Street, new traffic signal project
Chinatown -- Hill Street between Temple Street and Ord Street, new mid-block traffic signal project
Westlake -- 6th Street between Park View Street and Alvarado Street, left-turn lane project
Mid-City -- Venice Boulevard at La Brea Avenue, left-turn arrow project
Hollywood -- Gower Street between Melrose Avenue and Willoughby Avenue, left-turn lane project
SOUTH LOS ANGELES
South Los Angeles -- Normandie Avenue at 59th Street, pedestrian warning project
Jefferson Park -- Western at 37th Place, pedestrian warning project
San Pedro -- 1st Street between Meyler Street and Western Avenue, left-turn lane, traffic calming project
Harbor City -- Gaffey Street and Palos Verdes Drive at Anaheim Street, left-turn arrow project
Source: Mayor’s office
Los Angeles Times