Grants slated to boost traffic safety

Burbank will be getting more than $800,000 in federal grant assistance for pedestrian and traffic safety upgrades along the North San Fernando Boulevard corridor, where officials logged 89 collisions over a five-year period, one of them fatal.

The collisions occurred between January 2006 and December 2010 within a roughly half-mile stretch of the corridor that carries more than 20,000 cars daily each way, according to the city's grant application.

About 20% of the accidents involved rear-end collisions and right-of-way incidents, partly because of speeding motorists. A city survey found that 85% of motorists speed as they enter the Golden State (5) Freeway from North San Fernando, the application said.

Burbank received an $808,900 federal grant from the Highway Safety Improvement Program to bring pedestrian and traffic improvements to North San Fernando Boulevard section between Grismer Street and Walnut Avenue, officials said.

The city, meanwhile, will tap its Transportation Development Impact Fund to contribute an additional $90,000 to the project, said Deputy City Planner David Kriske.

The funds will cover improvements listed in the North San Fernando Boulevard Master Plan that was approved in September, including the installation of medians, high-visibility crosswalks with curb extensions, countdown signals, and protected left turns along the corridor, Kriske said.

Officials expect the improvements to slow down traffic, reduce right-of-way conflicts and create pedestrian-friendly streets, ultimately reducing the number of accidents.

With the grant, officials also hope to reconfigure two intersections where North San Fernando crosses East Avenue and Amherst Drive, said Traffic Engineer Ken Johnson.

The project also includes the installation of bike lanes, which has been a contentious issue in the past due to low ridership numbers citywide.

But officials are set on connecting the city with a network of bike lanes, so the lanes won't “just stop somewhere,” Johnson said.

“Our intention is not to put bike lanes in where it's going to hurt traffic,” he said. The grant is expected to come before the City Council for approval in the coming months, Johnson said.

City officials expect to start the design phase of the project mid-2013 and complete construction by 2015.

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