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New light on Oak Grove could signal traffic trouble for La Cañada High

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A crew closed traffic lanes Tuesday to install a protected left-hand turn signal for northbound traffic on Oak Grove at Berkshire Place. The new light should be operational by mid-March.
(Sara Cardine)

Vehicles turning left onto Berkshire Place will get a protected green arrow signal, but school officials worry southbound traffic could back up during peak times.

A county Public Works crew closed traffic lanes at the juncture of Oak Grove Drive and Berkshire Place Tuesday as part of an ongoing effort to install a protected left-hand turn signal for northbound traffic on Oak Grove.

The reconfiguration of traffic patterns at the intersection is designed to protect pedestrians and cars from trucks hauling sediment from nearby Devil’s Gate Dam to the 210 Freeway in a four-year project being undertaken by L.A. County Public Works.

Hauling began last May and went into October. A new hauling season could begin as soon as March, La Cañada Unified school officials recently reported. Trucks currently use Berkshire Place for ingress and egress until 2:30 p.m. to avoid pick-up traffic at nearby La Cañada High School.

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County civil engineer Brittany Barker said a new protected left-hand turn signal for northbound traffic on Oak Grove at Berkshire Place will be operational by mid-March.
(Sara Cardine)
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The new light will give northbound cars turning left onto Berkshire Place a protected green arrow signal, while temporarily stopping southbound traffic on Oak Grove Drive. A “no turn on red” light will be displayed to southbound lanes during the protected left turn.

School officials expressed concern the right-most lane of traffic moving south on Oak Grove — which has historically been allowed to progress through a red light with just a brief stop — could potentially create a backup during high traffic periods.

Recently, the installation work caused an unintentional jam on Oak Grove Drive during the high school’s open hours.

“Once that traffic signal starts functioning, we’re well aware it could create additional problems. The high school staff will be monitoring it closely,” said LCUSD board member Dan Jeffries in a Feb. 11 board meeting. “Even though it’s intended to improve the traffic flow, it may actually have a reverse effect.”

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Brittany Barker, a civil engineer with the Devil’s Gate Dam project, said in an email to the Valley Sun Wednesday the installation work began Jan. 27 and should be completely installed by mid-March.

“Although the Devil’s Gate Reservoir Restoration Project’s hauling schedule avoids the busy morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up at La Cañada schools, this signal upgrade will improve vehicle and pedestrian safety for everyone traveling through the intersection,” Barker said.

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