While drivers might be slowed by new left-turn traffic signals along
local roads -- including Buena Vista Street, Victory Boulevard and
Olive Avenue -- the problems are expected to be fixed in about 10
“The primary asset [of the new signals] is safety,” Burbank
Traffic Engineer Ken Johnson said. “If we don’t have these signals,
people tend to make the left turn in front of other cars. If someone
has been waiting a long time, they will take a little more chance.”
Burbank Police Sgt. Bruce Speirs agreed.
“We get a lot of collisions in intersections for failing to yield
to oncoming traffic when people are making left turns,” Speirs said.
While the department did not have exact figures on the number of
left-turn violations in Burbank, Sgt. Pat Lynch said drivers who
break right-of-way laws, which include failing to yield to oncoming
traffic, cause the most traffic accidents in the state.
Installation of the $1-million project -- which includes replacing
and upgrading poles and installing new underground electrical
conduits -- started in January and is scheduled to be complete in
mid-May, Johnson said. Until the entire project is finished, the
signals aren’t synchronized from block to block, causing delays. By
June, the department expects to have the kinks out of the system.
“When we get the signals timed properly, the left-turn signals
will be much more efficient,” Johnson said.
The nine new signals operate only when a car is in the left-turn
lane, minimizing delays if no one is turning left, Johnson said.
The bulk of the city’s traffic is carried by Hollywood Way, with
about 35,000 to 40,000 cars daily. While that street already features
left-turn arrows, Buena Vista Street and Olive Avenue -- two of
Burbank’s other major roads -- are being upgraded with the new
In the past five years, Buena Vista Street has gone from carrying
about 25,000 cars a day to 35,000, Johnson said. Other streets in
the project are Magnolia Boulevard, Alameda Avenue and Glenoaks
Another benefit of the signals is that they will deter drivers
from trying to dodge long lights by driving through residential
neighborhoods, Johnson said. Left-turn signals increase the number of
cars than can make a left turn from two to about six, which
discourages people from becoming impatient and turning onto
residential streets, he said.
Reporter Ben Godar
contributed to this article.