Controversial diagonal crosswalk in Montrose removed

Pedestrians use the diagonal crosswalk at the intersection of Ocean View Blvd. and Honolulu Avenue on Friday, February 20, 2015.

Pedestrians use the diagonal crosswalk at the intersection of Ocean View Blvd. and Honolulu Avenue on Friday, February 20, 2015.

(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

A controversial diagonal crosswalk in Montrose, intended to increase pedestrian safety, yet one that mostly just riled business owners and motorists, is gone.

In late February, additional crosswalk stripes were added to the intersection of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard, while traffic lights were retimed. The goal was to intermittently stop traffic and allow pedestrians passage in all directions.

But the project — implemented on a trial basis by the city to measure its impact — triggered a strong backlash from shop owners who complained of increased traffic and wait times for cars, potentially discouraging visitors to the Montrose Shopping Park area.

Andre Ordubegian, president of the park association’s board of directors, was one of the most staunch opponents of the diagonal crosswalk. The matter further escalated when he learned the city installed it with little input from local leaders.

The change, however, had its genesis with the association. During a meeting between the group and Councilwoman Paula Devine last year, all of those in attendance except for one member expressed interest in the idea.

Devine has said she took that idea to city staff, and asked if it could be looked into. Department of Public Works officials then installed the crosswalk on its own without any formal input from the City Council.

The move irritated the larger Council, which voted last month to have it removed.

City workers removed the crosswalk on Monday and retimed the traffic signals.

Ordubegian said he’s thankful the city responded swiftly.

“It was a misunderstanding and it was resolved quickly … we’re going to have less traffic jams and it’s going to translate to having more people visit our shopping park,” Ordubegian said. “It’s an easy in and out.”

Since the crosswalk was removed ahead of schedule, the city only had one month of data. The original plan called for a three-month trial.

“We have not analyzed the collected data yet,” said Public Works Director Roubik Golanian. “Quite frankly, it has not been a top priority for us, especially since the diagonal crosswalk was intended to be a temporary pilot program.

The pilot program for the crosswalk was developed in anticipation of next year’s Ocean View Boulevard Improvements project, which will look to implement street and pedestrian safety improvements, but it’s unclear at this time what role that analysis would play.

Jim Collins, owner of Montrose Town Kitchen & Grill, is just a few storefronts down on Honolulu from the intersection, and says he’s glad the diagonal crosswalk is no more.

“It’s a nice, quiet street again,” he said. “Pedestrians get through the intersection just fine . … It would have been a disaster if people were driving all around Montrose to avoid it.”