Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's Simply Impossible, an Opinion

I have been thinking about traffic and the struggles everyone, including the former Chairman of the Western Avenue Task Force has had in dealing with all the traffic issues associated with San Pedro and in particular, the proposed Ponte Vista project.

Traffic engineers thoughtout the City of L.A. have used formulas, studies, generation counts, level of service numbers, and just about all other data, based on national figures, the ITE manual created for the entire country, and well respected opinions of other engineers who think nationally.

This, in my opinion, is the major fault of traffic engineers dealing with developments in the greater Los Angeles area.

I don't feel it is just my opinion that we should not use national data to make determinations about possible traffic numbers in the greater L.A. area. I am quite sure all of you can see, just about every day, how the use of numbers based on national facts, figures, and trends, simply do not work in the greater L.A. area.

When engineers design traffic studies and mitigation guidelines here in L.A., they are producing documents and plans that really should never apply here.

It is not that they are dishonest or not forthright in their attempts, they simply use national data and formulas in an area where that data, those formulas are impossible to adequately use.

Los Angeles and its nearby surrounding areas are so different than all the other large cities in the U.S.A., that using nationally based data, formulas, and suggestions, don't work here.

I suggest that the traffic mess we are currently in was created by engineers who used national figures and nationally-based models, instead of looking at the area as being so different that the rest of the country, that a whole new set of data and guidelines should have been created long ago, for the greater L.A. area.

When Bob Bisno says that traffic will get worse even if nothing is built at Ponte Vista is not only a correct statement, it is also an acknowledgement that engineers haven't gotten it correct for years, if not generations.

Mr. David Shinder used ITE trip generation manuals and many other documents to come up with mitigations he felt would allow for up to 2,300 units to be built at Ponte Vista. His numbers may be accurate as far as nationally relied upon numbers are concerned, but they should never have been used as far as Ponte Vista is concerned, not because he or his engineering firm was wrong, but because they used data that cannot work in this area.

The L.A. Times has reported on this. The CAC did their very best to look into traffic counts. Many other people throughout the L.A. area have been looking at traffic for years now, and it has become very clear that using nationally-based facts, figures, and data for large developments in the L.A. area, has caused much more traffic woes than should have occured if locally-based facts, figures, and data had been used.

Bob can't be allowed to build even 1,300 units not because many of us don't want him to. But using incorrect information from the get-go has provided proof that there would be no community in the greater L.A. area that could handle the added traffic from even a development of 1,300 units, let alone 1,950.

If we need to stay mad at Bob, it is probably better to be angry with him because he doesn't want to learn whas so many folks in L.A. already know: all the numbers used for traffic are not reliable for this area, and we all know that to begin with.

When you drive on the 405 and get stuck going really slow around the bend at Hughes Parkway, just think of all the developments in that area and how nationally-based factors were used, instead of locally-generated facts and figures.

If you drive up the 15 freeway on your way to Las Vegas and get stuck in traffic north of the 210 interchange, look around at all the developments going up and remember they were engineered using the same traffic figures Bob is using for Ponte Vista.

Ponte Vista is one more example of using data the cannot hold true in the L.A. area, but is being pushed through, anyway.

Bob and Mr. Shinder are using what has been used so many times before and that is a big problem. Looking at all the traffic issues we currently have going on in the larger area, are magnified when using nationally-based data on our particular peninsula.

There is no real mass transit that can be utilized at Ponte Vista. The only "mass transit" that can be used are buses and they have to deal with added traffic when they travel on Western Avenue.

It was wrong years ago to base traffic issues with large developments here in OUR community, based on nationally used data. I wonder if proper guidelines were used when the original Eastview was built, starting in 1948. By about 1957, not only did my neighborhood have as many as 600 houses, the upper Caddington homes were going up. All of our houses contributed traffic to a Western Avenue that may have not been properly prepared for these developments, and it appears Western Avenue was never really able to catch up to all the developments that came after ours.

So probably Western Avenue never had a chance, since 1948, and developers never really considered correctly, the impacts of traffic along Western because they may have based their numbers on national statistics, which could never have applied to poor old Western Avenue.

Should we continue to allow errors begun decades ago to go on without reconsideration? The Western Avenue Task Force in their findings and recommendations alluded to these issues when the recommendation for adding a third lane in both directions by 2025 may help with too much traffic along Western.

When developers use incorrect data, we all use. The data is incorrect not because it may be false, but it is incorrect because it can never apply to an area like our. Engineers probably know that, but they don't have a real mandate to change how we deal with traffic in the greater L.A. area.

It is my opinion, that it is time to take a real stand and support those who call for creating traffic counts, data, formulas, trip generation, and manuals that are specific to the particular region we live in. Failing that, we are going to continue to get stuck in traffic, without any real set of devices to ease the issues.

Ponte Vista needs to be the real start at changing the way we all look at traffic. Let's hold them accountable for continuing to use bad data(for our area) and stand our ground, right here and right now, to tell everyone in L.A. that traffic planning as it has been done for so many years, is wrong, has been the real source of all the congestion, and cannot remain in OUR community and the greater L.A. area.

But if Bob and his folks are really serious about doing what is correct for OUR community, let's offer to work with them to find real numbers for OUR community that can be applied to traffic in OUR community. Step away from what is national and we may get a development which we all can be proud of.

Of course, if Bob and his bunch want to continue to stick defending nationally-produced numbers, it has to be R1, NO COMRPOMISE, as far as I am concerned.

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