CERRITOS — Caught between a cobblestone and a hard place, the City Council has agreed to remove special paving at Shoemaker Avenue and Artesia Boulevard that residents complain sounds like an old-fashioned washboard when big trucks and buses speed across it.
The decision is a victory for those living near the busy intersection who have complained for almost two years about the noise caused by fast-moving vehicles crossing the red, cobblestone-like surface.
Homeowners say the vibration rattles windows, dishes and nerves.
"There's just no keeping pictures straight," said a frustrated Dianne Xitco, whose two-story home sits on the southwest corner of the Shoemaker-Artesia intersection.
"Months ago, we gave up trying to keep our gallery wall in the living room straightened," she said. "When a truck rumbles through (the intersection), the whole house shudders."
Not willing to take it anymore, homeowners in the eastside neighborhood took petitions signed by 780 residents to the City Council on Sept. 19, calling for the removal of the red, stamped-concrete intersection. The council finally agreed--on a 3-1 vote with Wong dissenting and Barry Rabbitt absent--to replace the raised intersection with smooth concrete within six months.
Work on the intersection will be tied to the extension of Shoemaker Avenue over the 91 Freeway, city officials said. Cerritos officials plan to extend Shoemaker from where it now ends, at Artesia Boulevard, to 183rd Street, and add an overpass and freeway on- and off-ramps as part of the city's master plan for the Towne Center development.
Bidding on the $5.2-million Shoemaker extension and overpass project is scheduled for December, with construction expected to start early next year. Resurfacing the Artesia-Shoemaker intersection will cost about $75,000, Cerritos spokeswoman Michele Ogle said.
"The city made a mistake and should correct it. It's that simple," said Councilman Don Knabe, who has sided with homeowners since the city installed the stamped-concrete treatment at the intersection in December, 1983.
"I'm not a planner or an engineer, but it doesn't take a wizard to stand next to that corner and realize there was a vibration problem," Knabe said. "I don't blame those people for being upset."
Councilman Alex Beanum voted to resurface the intersection because of the widespread opposition to the bumpy concrete.
'800 People Agree'
"When 800 people can agree on an issue, it's hard to ignore them," said Beanum, an engineer who said he is still not convinced the raised concrete is causing all the noise and vibrations. "There are too many important issues in this city to spend any more time on that intersection. Those people don't like it, so let's take it out."
Jacque Kline, who can see the intersection from her kitchen window, said she and her husband, Roger, considered moving from their Carolyn Street home if the council had not acted.
"We've lived here for 14 years and leaving would have been difficult," said Kline, who spearheaded the petition drive. "But we just didn't know how much longer we could live with that noise!"
If a truck or bus hits the intersection at the right speed, Kline said, "it sounds like a stick going back and forth across an old washboard." Friends and family, she said, have mistaken the road noise for rain and even an earthquake. Her husband is often awakened at night by the noise, which most residents agree is worse during heavily traveled morning and evening rush hours.
"After a while it gets to you," she said, "just like fingernails on a chalkboard."
Besides the noise, Kline said she is upset that residents were not warned of city plans to tear up the asphalt intersection and replace it with the bumpy concrete.
Because a similar treatment to intersections on Studebaker Road along Cerritos Auto Square had triggered no complaints, city officials decided to spruce up the four major intersections bordering the Towne Center project, including the Shoemaker-Artesia corner.
The $225-million hotel, office and shopping development is to be built on a 125-acre parcel known as the "Golden Triangle" across from the Civic Center. It is bounded by 183rd Street on the south, Bloomfield Avenue on the west, Artesia Boulevard and the 91 Freeway on the north and on the east by the proposed extension of Shoemaker over the freeway.
"The treated intersections were designed to be visible gateways to the Towne Center project," Ogle said. "The city wanted people to know when they were getting close to the development."
The Artesia-Shoemaker intersection was the first to receive the new look in December, 1983. But complaints about the thumping noise from cars and trucks hitting the raised intersection began before the last load of concrete had been poured.