Safety Concerns on Pine St | Car Wreck Prompts Call for Action

Like Meridian and Fremont avenues – two streets that have generated a large number of complaints about excessive traffic speeds over the years – a resident said more attention should also be placed on the roadway off busy Huntington Drive

PHOTO: Lisa Henderson | News | A South Pasadena resident is concerned about the speed of traffic on Pine Street, where she said her son’s car was struck and totaled pulling out of the driveway

Racing around the corner, the fast-moving vehicle couldn’t stop in time, plowing into a 1969 Ford Mustang pulling out of a driveway on Pine Street in South Pasadena, completely totaling the classic car.

That’s how Lisa Henderson described it, recalling the accident in the front of her house, now saying her son’s prized possession once “built like a tank,” is now out of commission.

She claims the high speed of cars on the roadway, split between South Pasadena on one side and Alhambra on the other, is to blame.

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Henderson explained that her son had waited for “traffic to die down before pulling out and nobody was coming,” noting the other car involved “hit him at such a speed without even braking that his car was rotated 180 degrees and then hit a parked truck. Her car ended up another 50-plus feet down the road.”

It wasn’t an isolated case of excessive speed, stressed Henderson, who has watched traffic outside her home’s window in the 2000 block of Pine Street exceed the speed limit for the past decade. The roadway is often used as a shortcut for eastbound traffic on Huntington Drive headed to Atlantic Boulevard in Alhambra. Henderson claims speeding vehicles on the street is the norm.

“We have lobbied for speed bumps, speed humps etc. for over 10 years, only getting a stop sign on the south side of the street,” she said. “The argument between South Pasadena and Alhambra over the 710 has made it such that they don’t agree on the street…and people continue to get hurt.”

Henderson simply wants to know what can be done about the situation as other residents have expressed similar concerns about vehicle safety along Meridian Avenue and Fremont Avenue, the latter experiencing a fatal motorcycle accident that brought many to a January South Pasadena City Council meeting vociferously voicing their concerns.

South Pasadena Police Department officials say they are well aware of the issue. “City Council and staff continue to receive a significant number of traffic related complaints throughout the city, including Pine Street,” explained SPPD Deputy Chief Brian Solinsky. “The primary complaints are those of speeding, reckless driving, and disobedience to traffic control devices. Over the past several years, staff has attempted to address many of the city’s traffic issues through mitigation devices, coupled with enforcement efforts.”

In addition to providing additional enforcement and education to the community, Solinsky says the police department will continue to work with the city’s planning and public works departments to provide a comprehensive and long term solutions that best fits the needs of the community.  “It should be noted, the center of the roadway in this area of Pine Street delineates South Pasadena and Alhambra,” he explained. “Traffic data provided by the police department over the last year indicates there was one non-injury collision and five traffic stops for various violations.”

Solinsky said the collision involving Henderson’s son’s car occurred in the City of Alhambra.

Among those concerned about the traffic issues is South Pasadena City Councilmember Michael Cacciotti, who recently met with several residents echoing their frustration of vehicle speed, the volume of cars and congestion on Fremont Avenue.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Councilmember Michael Cacciotti during a February 5 meeting at City Hall

“They want to see if there are some near-term and long term solutions by the city,” said Cacciotti, noting that digital speed signs on the street may help to slow traffic.

Talk moved to Fair Oaks Avenue, another major road carrying heavy traffic, and what could be done to make travel more efficient. Making some changes at the 110 Freeway interchange, where a hook-ramp taking traffic off Fair Oaks onto State Street, has been long discussed by civic leaders. The redesign would take vehicles off Fair Oaks headed southbound on the 110 in a complete opposite direction that is currently in place. Many, like Cacciotti, believe it will free up traffic in the area.

“Going north and south could be a lot easier,” he said. “But then again, everything you do in one area impacts someplace else. In the last few days I noticed that traffic on Grevelia (Street) approaching Fair Oaks Avenue was backed up past Garfield Park. It never gets backed up that far, so that means there’s something is happening on Fair Oaks. We have to start addressing these issues and really focus on making improvements.”

The money is there, insists Cacciotti, as the city has about $100 million set aside from the federal government and notably Measure R, a half-cent sales tax for Los Angeles County to finance new transportation projects and programs, and accelerate those already in the pipeline.

The councilmember also said there have been talks among mayors about possibly improving the intersection at Atlantic and Garfield at Huntington Drive, which involves the cities of South Pasadena, Alhambra and San Marino.

“It’s a nightmare,” he said, talking about the confusion it brings motorists, some not sure how to navigate it.

Recognizing that traffic is high on the list addressed by the council, Cacciotti said he shares resident concerns. “We want to help people immediately,” he said. “Traffic congestion, speeds, pedestrian safety is a problem throughout the city. But we’re not causing the traffic. There’s been massive development in Pasadena the past 10 years and then you’ve got Alhambra with all the thousands of units that have been built. We’re squished in the middle. I hear the people, and as a council we’re trying to act and an respond in a positive way.”