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Residents express traffic concerns stemming from 210 Freeway project

Traffic comes to a stop on the eastbound 210 freeway in La Crescenta due to the two right lanes being closed for roadwork on Nov. 14, 2016.

Traffic comes to a stop on the eastbound 210 freeway in La Crescenta due to the two right lanes being closed for roadwork on Nov. 14, 2016.

(Roger Wilson / Glendale News-Press)

Caltrans officials leading the rehabilitation of the Foothill (210) Freeway visited the Crescenta Valley Town Council Thursday night to address ongoing concerns from residents over public safety issues and traffic jams brought on by delays in construction.

The Freeway Pavement Rehabilitation Project is a three-year, roughly $143-million Caltrans effort to resurface a 9.7-mile stretch of freeway lanes from Dunsmore Avenue in La Crescenta to Los Robles Avenue in Pasadena. Along with other upgrades, the work is scheduled to complete by summer 2018.

Since its October 2015 start date, construction has been the source of routine traffic woes. Recently, however, the unanticipated simultaneous shifting of lanes going both eastbound and westbound — due to a delay in construction — has exacerbated congestion.

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The closures of the eastbound Pennsylvania Avenue on- and off-ramps have also caused commuters to flood surface streets as a way to avoid 210 traffic.

The council meeting began with a surprise visit by state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), and they asked Caltrans officials to consider the bevy of issues that have been brought to their attention.

“There’s a lot of things I know [Caltrans] has to think about when you do these projects,” Friedman said. “But there’s one thing I hope that you are thinking about more than anything else and that’s public safety.”

During a presentation, Caltrans project manager Reza Fateh said the agency has taken additional measures, such as implementing advance warning signage and an increase in California Highway Patrol presence, to address public concerns.

Fateh also proposed remedies to solve congestion on Foothill and Ocean View boulevards. Caltrans will use signage on Lowell Avenue to inform drivers earlier that Pennsylvania is closed as a means of encouraging traffic away from Ocean View.

For westbound congestion, Fateh said the agency will look at a detour route via Verdugo Boulevard as well as placing earlier warnings that Foothill is jammed with the hope of keeping drivers on the 210 Freeway.

Still, many residents at the Town Council meeting said that enough wasn’t being done and, too often, what has been put in place is inadequate.

“When we consistently have accident after accident at La Crescenta, at Pennsylvania... there’s clearly something wrong, and I’m wondering how long it’s going to take to fix that issue,” said La Crescenta resident Robbyn Battles. “Because when [other residents] say ‘someone is going to die,’ someone is going to die.”

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FOR THE RECORD

12/18, 12:34 p.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a quote to Robin Goldsworthy. The quote was spoken by Robbyn Battles.

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Residents also focused their concerns on what they said is poor visibility of old and new signage due mainly to the large number of semi trucks and construction equipment obscuring them. Several complained about dangerous merging conditions and a lack of coordination with local, unassociated street projects that further restrict traffic flow.

On Friday, Caltrans announced that Pennsylvania will reopen on Thursday and should relieve some traffic congestion. The same day, the eastbound La Crescenta on-ramp will close until spring.

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Jeff Landa, jeff.landa@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeffLanda


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