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Stop Sign Effort Gains After Hit-and-Run : Amid Traffic Studies, Death Is Bottom Line

November 01, 1986|KAREN KUCHER | Times Staff Writer

For more than two years, Jerome Cholodenko has tried to get the City of Santa Ana to put two stop signs on Greenville Street.

Cholodenko, who has lived near the intersection of Harvard Street and Greenville for 18 years, says he has watched increasing traffic and fast drivers make travel on the road dangerous. But city traffic studies have found that additional stop signs along the roadway are unwarranted.

Now, after a hit-and-run accident Wednesday that left 21-year-old bicyclist Bill Kidwell dead, it appears that something will be done.

Santa Ana City Councilman P. Lee Johnson sent a memo Friday to City Manager David Ream asking for a four-way stop sign at Harvard and Greenville and a three-way stop sign at Anahurst Place and Greenville, based on what he calls "human concerns."

". . . The accident might possibly have been prevented had we listened to the residents' requests instead of relying completely on facts and figures," Johnson wrote. "In light of this tragedy, it seems to me that we need to depart from the traditional bureaucratic profile regarding stop signs."

'Slaves to Those Matrices'

"It broke my heart," Johnson said of his reaction upon learning of the accident. "The neighborhood had asked us a couple of times in the past to look into it.

"We had applied our usual matrix--and we said it doesn't qualify. Sometimes we become slaves to those matrices and forget the human side of things. I don't know if it would have made a difference. It sure as hell would have made me feel better."

In the span of 18 months, the city has conducted three traffic studies of Greenville Street intersections, said associate traffic engineer Chuck Mackey.

Those studies, which look at the volume and speed of traffic and analyze accidents, are then compared to state standards to determine whether stop signs are warranted, Mackey said.

A study completed in September showed several accidents at Greenville and Harvard, but installation of a stop sign was rejected because the traffic on Greenville is much heavier than on Harvard, Mackey said.

"I wouldn't want to put them there except as a last resort," Mackey said. "They would cause traffic delays and probably rear-end accidents."

He said the city had been studying other options, such as painting curbs red along Harvard to discourage parking or putting in a left-turn lane.

Death of Neighbor

For Cholodenko, it was the death of a neighbor working as a traffic crossing guard two years ago that caused him to push for the signs.

"The issue was lives," Cholodenko said. "I kept telling them that traffic goes through here like there is no tomorrow. We've all lived with this kind of fear with traffic here for a long time."

Johnson said he is confident that the signs will be put up soon.

As for Cholodenko, he is hopeful that new signs will improve life on Greenville.

"A kid got killed because we have so much traffic and drivers have no respect for speed laws," he said. "It's not going to get rid of it all, but it will help the situation. It will slow them down. I think it should have been done before. It's taken two years to get it this far."

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