First published in the Dec. 9 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
As part of the city’s ongoing series of virtual town hall meetings, San Marino Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne on Monday presented the municipality’s draft Traffic Circulation Study to the public for feedback.
“This is a work in progress,” said Throne in introducing the subject, also assuring attendees that the study employs traffic data from fall 2019, “when school was in session and also during weekends.”
The study examined 30 intersections within city limits to determine traffic flow and also evaluate pedestrian impact, according to Throne.
“Our general conclusion is that things generally work well,” Throne said.
Even so, five intersections have been recommended for design improvements and each was discussed Monday, including those at Bedford Road and Huntington Drive, San Marino Avenue and Huntington Drive, San Marino Avenue and Lorain Road, Los Robles Avenue and Mission Street, and Sierra Madre Boulevard and Robles Avenue.
The report was presented with the assistance of Deepak Kaushik, who works for Iteris, the city’s consultant on the matter. Kaushik said that the study includes traffic counts taken during weekday mornings and afternoons, and included pedestrian and bicycle counts. Kaushik’s demonstration included aerial views of the city and each intersection that was discussed.
Though each of the five targeted convergences presented a unique challenge, the intersection of San Marino Avenue and Huntington Drive seemed the most problematic and potentially dangerous.
“There is too much traffic during each green light cycle,” claimed Eileen Hale, a longtime San Marino resident who was once a member of the now-defunct Traffic Advisory Committee. “This impacts traffic as far south as Lorain Road.”
Hale also pointed out what she referred to as “a dangerous merge” at the southwest corner of the intersection — where southbound traffic transitions from the two-lane Sierra Madre Boulevard to the single-lane San Marino Avenue — and additionally pointed out that the north-south pedestrian crossings are too long in duration.
The intersection at San Marino Avenue and Lorain Road was also a point of discussion: “This is the busiest of all intersections in the city that are not served by a traffic signal,” Kaushik pointed out. He said that lane reductions, signals and other traffic calming methods had been considered but were not implemented.
The corner of Los Robles Avenue and Mission Street was also of concern, highlighted by what Kaushik called “a wacky skew” at the intersection. Throne said the city has suggested extending the curbs to make it safer for pedestrian crossings in one of the city’s principal commercial districts.
Throne also said the city is considering a north-south crosswalk and possibly curb extensions at the corner of Bedford Road and Huntington Drive.
Due to its close proximity to San Marino High School, the intersection of Sierra Madre Boulevard and Robles Avenue is also under scrutiny. Throne said possible remedies include the addition of a signalized crosswalk or a flashing beacon. He said that the traffic striping that was added in 2018 has greatly cut down on accidents, “to almost zero.”
Though it was not one of the intersections mentioned on the agenda, the problematic crossing at Los Robles Avenue and Marengo Road was also came up. Throne said that possible remedies to the high volume of traffic and lengthy delays at stop signs include speed humps and tighter enforcement to steer drivers in a different direction.
Longtime resident Dr. Raymond Quan suggested the city also address the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Huntington Drive, which is near Carver Elementary School and a burgeoning commercial district.
“This is very important,” said Quan.
The traffic circulation study will be presented again at a future meeting of the Public Safety Commission for further discussion before it is brought back before the City Council for new direction.
The draft report is available online at cityofsanmarino.org/TrafficStudy.
Editor’s note: Quan, who has frequently commented on city-led traffic initiatives, is a freelance photographer for Outlook News Group.