Clusters of pedestrians crossing the highway at Main Beach, rather
than straggling across in twos and threes, may be key to unblocking the
Broadway intersection and moving traffic more smoothly on the highway.
The City Council unanimously approved on Tuesday a pilot program that
will include testing a pedestrian-only signal phase and restoring the
crosswalk on the south side of the intersection.
Both measures will require the cooperation of Caltrans.
Traffic engineer Steve Sasaki made the recommendations after reviewing
data, traffic and the notion of using staff to control traffic downtown
during the summer.
"I am the one who asked police to direct traffic and I got into a lot
of trouble," said Councilwoman Toni Iseman. "So I support this."
At Iseman's request, the Police Department staffed the intersection in
the summer of 2000, using experienced supervisors.
"We made the problem worse," said Police Capt. Paul Workman, who has
been working on traffic control for the past two years. "Traffic was
backed up all the way to Bluebird Canyon."
Sasaki said phasing the signal for pedestrians only was a better
solution than using police staff. At least worth the try, he said.
He knows firsthand what it's like trying to drive through town on the
highway or to make the turn onto or off of Broadway. He lives here.
"I have reviewed his report, met with Steve May (city Public Works
director) and traffic experts and we all feel it was a thorough analysis
of the issues and had some good ideas," Workman said. "The problem is
worse in the summer."
No surprise there.
"There are only three ways in and out of town and they all converge at
Broadway and the highway," Workman said. "It's a bottleneck."
Summertime and weekend gridlock at the intersection is exacerbated by
the timing of the signals, which are geared for morning and afternoon
Sasaki also has suggested asking Caltrans to recalibrate the timing of
the signals at peak traffic times.
"We probably should look at timing plans for different scenarios,"
The council will consider budgeting funds for a study of the Broadway
intersection and as many as five intersections south to Legion Street.