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Residents: Street improvements on Knight and Gould are not helpful

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Paradise Canyon Elementary students stand in the recently placed wheel stop median on Gould Avenue Friday, Sept. 27. The city’s Public Works Department has tried to improve conditions at the Knight Way and Gould Avenue intersection, but neighbors say fixing one problem creates another.
(James Carbone/La Cañada Valley Sun)

After two years of planning and constructing roadway and traffic improvements around Paradise Canyon Elementary School, La Cañada Flintridge officials are learning more still needs to be done to improve the flow of vehicles and pedestrians near campus.

While a bulk of the $708,555 project’s street repaving and sidewalk installations around the intersection of Gould Avenue and Knight Way have helped guide, if not reduce, school traffic, other elements are troubling area residents.

A group of Paradise Canyon neighbors spoke at a Sept. 26 meeting of the Joint Use Committee, which considers properties and holdings shared by La Cañada Unified School District and the city, to share their frustration with recent median work on Gould’s north end.

The city’s improvement project originally called for the extension of a raised median north of Knight Way that would prohibit parents from making illegal northbound U-turns on Gould while dropping off and picking up PCY students.

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When bids for the work came in much higher than the project’s budget, the city opted to paint an impassible, double-yellow-lined median that was not be crossed.

But drivers failed to heed the striping, according to Public Works Director Pat DeChellis.

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Motorists make a U-turn around the recently placed wheel-stop median near Paradise Canyon Elementary School’s Gould Avenue. The city’s Public Works Department installed the structure to deter illegal U-turns, but neighbors claim the traffic is worse.
(James Carbone/La CañadaValley Sun)

And so, on Sept. 19 a work crew installed 36 wheel stops inside the median’s parameters to keep vehicles from crossing illegally, spending $9,800. That forced cars traveling north on Gould to go further to make a legal turnaround.

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But neighbors north of the school say the structures make it more difficult for them to exit their homes and create new traffic issues as turning vehicles clog up Gould’s juncture with Paulette Place to the north.

“For 20 years we enjoyed a big, wide beautiful street. Now I feel like I’m being punished,” said Nancy Yasuda. “We can no longer come out of our driveway and make a left.”

Neighbors also claim the wheel stops, which have reflective surfaces for nighttime visibility, are an unsightly nuisance.

“When you come up Gould at night it looks like you’re coming into LAX — [the median] lights up, it looks ugly,” said resident Don Manning, a former city commissioner. “It accomplishes very little except more confusion and more problems.”

LCUSD Governing Board member and Paradise Canyon parent Joe Radabaugh agreed the school traffic has been an ongoing problem. He suggested the Public Works and Traffic Commission review the matter further with neighbors’ input.

City officials requested a traffic engineer temporarily review the impact of the new wheel stops on driving and pedestrian patterns and present preliminary findings at the traffic commission’s Oct. 16 meeting.

“We’re committed to trying to solve this problem in the right way for all of us,” Radabaugh said.

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