Median project compounds traffic congestion on Foothill in La Crescenta

Construction of a median project planned a decade ago on a stretch of Foothill Boulevard in La Crescenta has now whittled the street down to one lane in both directions, causing traffic congestion in the area.

The closed lanes — one in each direction between Pennsylvania and Briggs avenues — will open up again once the project ends in late November, according to Los Angeles County spokesman Steven Frasher.

“Everyone hates inconvenience; we get that,” Frasher said. “The way we’re trying to address that is getting it done as quickly and efficiently as we possibly can.”

That means having crews working every day, including weekends, between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Frasher said.

Evening and late-night shifts were not considered viable in the residential area because it may produce light and noise pollution, he added.

The project includes construction of new landscaped medians, two monument signs and an irrigation system, all financed by funds from Los Angeles County in the unincorporated community, according to a project summary released in July.

The medians will feature drought-resistant plants, said Harry Leon, president of Crescenta Valley Town Council.

Construction was slated to begin in January but was pushed back initially to April and then to August by the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, citing delays on unrelated construction work on the 210 Freeway, Leon said.

“We couldn’t delay it anymore,” said Leon, who added that Caltrans wanted to push the project back even further because the freeway project was extended until December.

There were other reasons for rescheduling the project, Frasher said. Working during cooler months helps conserve water and makes it more likely that the installed plants flourish.

“We were eager to get going,” but the project managers didn’t want to go through the laborious landscaping process “and scorch it all to death,” Frasher said.

Construction ultimately began on Sept. 4. The goal is to have the project completed one week before the Thanksgiving holiday, Leon said.

As a result of the projects’ overlap, additional strain has been placed on Foothill, which has been used as an alternate route during periods of construction on the freeway.

Discussion to launch the beautification project began back in the early 2000s, Frasher said, adding that it gained traction at the time, but didn’t get on track until 2015.

Local residents were inspired by La Cañada Flintridge, which had its own landscaped medians, “and everyone was so impressed,” Leon said.

Council leaders approached county officials about the project before his time on the council, Leon said.

County officials then worked with stakeholders to present the project’s first rendering three years ago, Leon said. Community outreach and public forums followed and residents’ input was taken into consideration, he added.

While Leon said he wasn’t too thrilled with the medians at first, the idea has grown on him.

“I love the medians now,” Leon said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the project finished and the beautification complete.”

Twitter: @lila_seidman