HUNTINGTON BEACH -- With cars already zooming down Pacific Coast Highway,
a city plan to add more lanes to the busy thoroughfare is driving some
nearby residents nuts.
"It's going to be a speedway," said Rhonda Jones Pisani.
Not only will driving the highway become more harried, but Pisani is
concerned it will become even more dangerous for beach-goers who jaywalk
across the highway. A number of pedestrians have been struck -- even
killed -- by passing cars over the years.
"[It] will create a slaughter alley," said Jack Wenzel said.
The city proposal is currently in the planning stages, and no date has
been scheduled for the project to begin.
The plan would add a car lane and a bike lane in each direction between
Beach Boulevard and Goldenwest Street, city engineer Bob Eichblatt said.
He stresses that, contrary to popular belief, the highway would not be
"There's just no room to widen without spending gazillions of dollars,"
Instead, at a cost of about half a million dollars, the city will narrow
the median island by several feet and the existing car lanes by a few
inches, he said. About 460 parking spaces on either side of the road will
have to go, too, he said.
He said adding lanes will not increase traffic numbers or speed. Traffic
signals are set to keep the average speed of cars at about 33 mph, he
"This is just to handle the traffic that's already there," he said.
Gil Schauer, who lives along the highway, isn't so sure of that. She
estimates many cars zip by at 40 to 50 mph.
The work shouldn't take more than four months, but the city can't begin
until a location is found to replace the parking spaces, Eichblatt said.
The state Coastal Commission requires a one-for-one swap.
Those living along the highway may oppose the plan, but adding lanes will
ease traffic congestion, making Downtown a more attractive place to
visit, he said.
"It would be good for business," said Jason Bean, manager at Jack's
Surfboards in Downtown.
Although he sympathizes with the concerns of nearby residents, Bean said
the city must pay a price for economic growth.
"You have to give a little to get a little," he said.