As residents wrestle with traffic concerns on Fremont and Meridian avenues, the South Pasadena City Council will hear about a traffic plan involving another city street during its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, February 5, at City Hall.
Residents in the area where both Holy Family School and South Pasadena High are in close proximity have raised the issue of speeding, congestion, illegal drop-off activity, inadequate lighting, difficulty of backing out of driveways, poor visibility at certain locations and lack of sidewalks.
The two campuses are located in a low-density residential area near Ramona Avenue. The residents within the Ramona Avenue neighborhood expressed concerns regarding the traffic congestion, circulation and safety during the adjacent schools pick-up and drop-off hours. As a result, the city conducted a study to collect traffic data, evaluate the neighborhood traffic concerns, and identify potential solutions.
In March 2018, the City of South Pasadena retained Nelson\Nygaard to prepare a Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan for Ramona Avenue and adjacent areas. The consultant evaluated the traffic conditions to address concerns of congestion, and safety.
The study consisted of field observations, the review of school policies and procedures, the analysis of the traffic volume and the 5-year collision data, and assessment of the bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Upon completion of the study Nelson\Nygaard concluded:
- More traffic was observed on the neighboring streets in the morning in the afternoon due to staggered pick-ups.
- Majority of the traffic on Ramona Avenue and Rollin Street was related to the South Pasadena High School. The consultant observed some High School parents parking on Ramona Avenue and Rollin Street for pick-up and drop-off. However, most of the on street parking was concentrated on Rollin Street, which was full by 2:50 p.m. and cleared out by 3:15 pm.
- No conflicts were observed between vehicles exiting and entering Holy Family School pickup/drop-off area.
- Collisions occurred primarily on Fremont Avenue, and the overall collision rate was low. According to the five-year collision data (2013-2017) obtained from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), a total of 10 collisions were reported, none of which resulted in a fatal or severe injury. Apart from one vehicle-only collision on Ramona Avenue and Spruce Street, there were no collisions on neighborhood streets within the study area.
The study also showed, as reflected in a city report, that the overall traffic volumes around the schools are lower than expected for a suburban school location based on the Institute for Transportation Engineers Trip Generation Rates and field observations. While the traffic circulation, and vehicular and pedestrian interference are exacerbated during school pick-up and drop-off times, the following proposed solutions presented by the consultant can minimize the impacts of these conditions:
Short Term Solutions provided by Nelson\Nygaard:
- Install continental crosswalks throughout the study area. This will require installation of 8 new ADA compliant curb ramps.
- Install a stop sign at Ramona Avenue for vehicles turning onto Rollin Street.
- Tree trimming throughout the study area to improve sign visibility.
- Stagger school schedules.
- Additional education and enforcement regarding pick/up drop off and pedestrian safety.
Long Term Solutions:
- Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon at Diamond mid-block crossing near South Pasadena High School.
- Curb extensions on the southwest leg of Ramona Avenue and Oak Street.
- Curb ramp realignment on Ramona Avenue at Oak Street and Rollin Street.
- Regulatory “Yield to Pedestrian” warning signs at the north and south legs of Ramona Avenue and Spruce Street.
- Upgrade pedestrian lighting throughout the study area.
- Reconfigure the intersection of Diamond Avenue and Lyndon Street to improve.
Some community members showed an interest in closing the section of Diamond Avenue adjacent to the South Pasadena High School in order to connect the main campus (on the east side of Diamond) with the gym (on the west side). The consultant concluded that the proposed road closure would shift about 300 cars to the surrounding streets, which could result in pedestrian safety.
In the study, short-term items with minimal cost impact, such as installing a sign, will be undertaken as part of the existing operating budget.
City officials say the study was funded not to exceed $24,960. The anticipated costs for the short and long-term solutions are approximately $210,000 and $205,000, respectively (excluding the installation of additional street lights).
City officials say $50,000 is available in the Neighborhood Traffic Management Capital Improvement Project budget, which can be utilized to install some of the mitigation measures.
City Staff will evaluate the use of available funding to address the design deficiencies at the locations where two pedestrian collisions took place (intersections of Rollin Street and Bank Street at Fremont Avenue).
Next steps, according to the study, call for short term and long-term improvements to be prioritized in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan. Short-term items with minimal cost impact, such as installing a sign, will be undertaken as part of the existing operating budget.
Initial concerns were raised following two public meetings, the first in November 2018 in which a consultant presented findings from the existing conditions analysis, discussed next steps and gathered input on existing concerns and potential solutions. A second meeting in November 18 where the consultant presented the findings of the study with potential mitigation measures. About 15 people were in attendance at each meeting.
The Ramona Avenue study comes at a time when many residents on Fremont and Meridian avenues are looking for remedies to slowing traffic on those streets. Fueling the discussion, in early January, a Los Angeles man riding a stolen motorcycle died after he lost control and hit a truck near Buena Vista Street.