The City of San Marino is moving ahead with plans for an intersection improvement and corridor improvements along Huntington Drive in front of school sites after a City Council meeting at the Crowell Public Library on Friday, Sept. 27. The idea of a possible future acquisition of land within the Atlantic Boulevard/Garfield Avenue/Los Robles Avenue/Huntington Drive intersection, currently a Pizza Hut, was also discussed.
The roadway improvements are part of Measure R funding via Metro as part of the 710 North traffic study meant to improve traffic flow, decrease congestion and improve safety near school sites. The two projects involve intersection work at Atlantic Boulevard/Garfield Avenue/Los Robles Avenue/Huntington Drive (Project 1) and corridor work by school sites along Huntington Drive (Project 2). San Marino Director of Parks and Public Works and City Engineer Michael Throne presented updates to Project 1 and 2, the two council-approved projects after an initial five projects were on the table.
For Project 1, the preliminary cost estimate is $8 million. Throne said refinements will include diverting northbound vehicles away from Garfield Avenue and Los Robles Avenue by adding left turn lanes on Atlantic Boulevard, restricting left turns from Los Robles Avenue northbound onto Oak Street during commute hours, reclassifying Los Robles Avenue from a principal arterial to a minor arterial or collector (resulting in a “deemphasis” of it in traffic modeling), eliminating the lane merge when northbound vehicles enter Garfield Avenue or Los Robles Avenue, updating signal timing and all traffic signal equipment and directional signage as well as refreshing all median landscaping.
Project 2 has a preliminary cost estimate of $6 million and involves corridor work from city limits to city limits.
Refinements were noted by Throne as freeing up the #3 lane for “efficient improved through-travel” by moving to the side the double parked lane during school hours, effectively restoring the lane to its intended flow and matching Metro’s goal for the corridor, narrowing three through lanes with edged striping in both directions from Los Robles Avenue to San Gabriel Boulevard, recommending that the school zones move curbs back to sidewalks to give the “greatest width of safety” for the #3 lane for loading and unloading at school sites and creating separate turn lanes from Huntington Drive into school driveways. Striped safety barrier roadway marks are also planned between the loading zones and adjacent through lane. At San Marino High School, lengthy median left turn lanes are planned from Huntington Drive into Winston Avenue and Gainsborough Drive.
It was considered possible for an on-campus loading zone to be added to SMHS, known as Option 2 for Project 2, in the event that the school can arrange details and funding, as on-campus work would not be covered by Measure R funding. Throne estimated the cost at $250,000.
“I’m very appreciative of all the positive comments, ideas and suggestions the department has received since last November, and I was very encouraged by the thoughtfulness and obvious interest in making travel through San Marino safer,” Throne said at the meeting.
The suggestions received from the public fell under two general categories, according to Throne: work that may be eligible for Measure R funding and work on streets outside the funding area. Maps that are available for the two projects on the city’s website detail eligible suggestions while the non-eligible comments were sent on to city traffic engineers for additional study and consideration.
Throne noted that the traffic engineering work for Project 1 and Project 2 will be “very different” than the work undertaken by engineering consulting company Iteris in conducting the citywide traffic circulation study. The study will include “very preliminary solutions” for intersections not covered by Measure R.
“The Measure R projects require highly focused and very detailed engineering work when compared to the citywide study,” said Throne.
Council members discussed the possibility of acquiring the triangle of land within the intersection of Project 1, currently occupied by a Pizza Hut franchise. Council Member Ken Ude noted the land as a “pizza triangle” that could serve as a “fairly good financial resource.”
“If we combine some of our resources to truly have a long-term solution, I think we’d be open to consider that,” said Ude.
Throne noted that the possibility of acquiring the property had to be “tentatively explored” with Metro, but the intersection funding as currently configured did not include acquisition.
Council Member Steve Talt pressed city staff for transparency and updates as the process moves forward. A motion set by Talt and seconded by Ude included city staff approving the Measure R refinements with the understanding that further modifications may occur as a result of public input, updating the estimated project costs and submitting to the council a draft funding agreement and implementation schedule taking into consideration possible future work by the school district at SMHS.
“My motion is that before you do anything with Metro, you bring us back the potential Metro agreements,” said Talt.