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Target store has increased traffic in La Cañada’s Town Center, study finds

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A Target shopper in La Cañada Flintridge uses a crosswalk designed to help curb traffic in front of the retail store. A recent survey of the area showed Target has increased traffic and decreased the level of service of some intersections of the city’s Town Center but not beyond acceptable levels.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

When the La Cañada Flintridge Target store opened its doors last October it became a crown jewel in the city’s Town Center, but among some it created concern the increased traffic it could generate would become a royal pain.

Target representatives conducted a traffic analysis that indicated the store’s impact on vehicle load on and around Town Center Drive and nearby Angeles Crest Highway and Foothill Boulevard would not be significant.

Signing off on the project, the Planning Commission called for the city to conduct its own traffic study six months after Target’s Oct. 16 grand opening and compare real traffic conditions to the company’s predictions.

Traffic engineer Farhad Iranitalab told the La Cañada Flintridge Public Works and Traffic Commission during its regular meeting Aug. 21 that the actual impacts are somewhat greater than the Target study predicted but still within what the city’s general plan defines as acceptable.

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“We collected from volume counts at all the intersections that study had projected, and we recalculated the level of service at all these intersections,” he said. “There were some changes on level-of-service assignments, but the good thing is they are within an acceptable level.”

Traffic engineers counted vehicle trips made on May 15 during midday and evening peak hours on weekdays as well as daytime peak hours on Saturday and Sunday at Foothill Boulevard’s juncture with Chevy Chase Drive, Angeles Crest Highway and Civic Center Drive.

Both studies counted traffic where Angeles Crest meets Town Center Drive, a popular entry point for Target shoppers, and the Foothill (210) Freeway off-ramp onto Angeles Crest. Intersections were given values corresponding to the number of vehicles traveling in a lane in one hour, divided by the lane’s capacity, Iranitalab explained.

Intersections were given level-of-service grades ranging from A to F to qualitatively describe their performance considering factors like vehicle speed, density and congestion.

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When city staff compared Target’s predicted values to what they observed, most intersections varied only by one letter grade, but some showed a marked decline during peak hours.

For example, the intersection of Angeles Crest and Town Center Drive went from an A in the Target study to a C when actual vehicle counts were taken during the afternoon weekday rush. On Saturdays, the juncture’s level of service declined from a B to a D.

Saturday also saw an increased impact on the eastbound Foothill Freeway off-ramp onto Angeles Crest, which slid from an A to a C.

Public Works and Traffic Commission Vice Chair Edward Yu said the study makes clear Target has brought more cars into the city’s Town Center, though the feedback doesn’t seem too worrisome.

“They are within acceptable levels but, again, I do want to make sure we do continually look at that,” he said. “Still, I’m comfortable with this, because I don’t see [traffic] increasing that significantly.”

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