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Poling Place : Motorists Learn the Art of Sharing Right-of-Way on an Industry Street

May 16, 1985|PAT BRENNAN | Times Staff Writer

INDUSTRY — Merchants and residents driving along Lemon Avenue here have learned to share their roadway with two lines of utility poles sticking up out of the pavement.

The two dozen poles may not be removed until as late as mid-July.

Meanwhile, the poles stand in the middle of the street and one row crosses three traffic lanes on a curve in the newly widened road. Motorists, with the help of lighted barricades, must negotiate around the poles.

But City of Industry officials say they planned it that way. Paving around the poles, they explained this week, holds dust down, keeps the new road intact and is more convenient for those who live and work along the street.

Arrangement Not Permanent

Although planned at the outset of the improvement project, the arrangement is not permanent, and only a single layer of pavement has been laid. The second will be reserved until General Telephone and the Edison utility companies remove their poles, officials say.

Eventually the telephone and electrical lines will be pulled through conduits already laid beneath the roadway.

But business owners on Lemon are angry about the poles and about construction delays that have kept their -mile stretch of road closed to through traffic for more than a year.

They say they are losing customers because few realize that local traffic has access to the area from side streets. And some say the poles are traffic hazards.

"We're going down the tubes with this business," said Ivan Camarena, who operates B & I Tire at 436 S. Lemon Ave.

Loss of Customers Claimed

Camarena said he has suffered a substantial loss of customers since the road was closed to through traffic in April, 1984. "People don't like to drive around the other side" where side streets lead into Lemon, he said.

Mike Marantz, manager of G. Michael's Auto Sales at 430 S. Lemon, said he has had no business since his firm opened a month ago because access to Lemon from Valley Boulevard is closed. He also said he has witnessed several near accidents along the strip.

"I think it's better to take out the poles (before paving) because they are very dangerous, especially at night," Marantz said.

"It's completely illogical," said Jan Janca, who works at a patio construction firm near Lemon and who lives a few streets away. Janca said he drives by the poles frequently on his way to pick up supplies at another nearby firm. "It's a safety hazard and no hazard is a convenience," Janca said.

"If local traffic is careful it does not present a hazard," said Industry City Engineer John Radecki. "If you get someone out there who is speeding and intoxicated, it can be a hazard."

Barricades and barrels of sand, he added, have been placed around the poles to reduce the risk.

As for the merchant's complaints, Radecki said, "I hope the people do appreciate that they're going to have much better access than they did before."

Two Railroad Crossings

But Radecki said he too has been frustrated by delays in the project, attributing them to myriad construction problems involving several different companies.

He said the stretch of road in question is crossed by two train tracks operated by different railroad companies, both of which have yet to finish building new crossings to match the wider road. In addition to GTE and Edison, Radecki said, the Walnut Valley Water District and two contracting firms have worked on the project at various times. Unexpectedly moist soil beneath the road surface also contributed to the delays, he said.

But Radecki said work on the project probably will be finished quickly once the telephone company removes the poles.

Kevin Laverty, a spokesman for General Telephone, said administrators are working to expedite the pole removal. He said GTE representatives and Radecki set July 15 as the final date for removal. Radecki said he plans to have one side of the road open to two-way traffic sometime in June.

Called Common Practice

Radecki said the city's original improvement plan for the area called for pavement to be laid while the poles were in place, and that paving around such obstructions is a common engineering practice.

"We had a lot of problems from people using the area there," Radecki said.

"Everything was getting dirty. So we put down the base course of pavement."

Robert Ozuna, the foreman for the company that did the paving, said he was simply following the city's plan when he paved around the poles. But Ozuna said that if the job had been left up to him, he would have handled it differently.

'Should Have Removed Poles'

"They should have removed the poles first, so I could have done my job better," Ozuna said.

Patches of pavement will inevitably have to be replaced after the poles come out, Radecki said, adding that the patchwork will be minimal and will not cause the project to exceed its budget.

"Another course of pavement will be laid on top," he said, "and you'll never know what the situation was under there."

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