LOS ANGELES — Responding to increasing public frustration with traffic congestion, county officials Monday announced plans to create a five-year, $15-million program to improve the flow of vehicles on major arteries through greatly expanded synchronization of traffic lights.
Motorists would help offset the cost by being billed an extra dollar for vehicle registration.
If it receives final approval in the next few months, as expected, county officials hope to complete the first phase of the program on sections of 10 thoroughfares across the county within 18 months. Hundreds of thousands of commuters use those streets each day.
Officials said the new systems should allow motorists traveling at the posted speed limit on selected boulevards to hit significantly fewer red lights. Reducing starts and stops should save time and fuel, and reduce smog, officials said.
"A lot of (the benefit) would be less frustration" for drivers, said Thomas Tidemanson, Los Angeles County's public works director.
'Common Sense Plan'
Noting that lack of available land and high construction costs have made construction of more freeways and highways in the Los Angeles urbanized area virtually impossible, Tidemanson said: "We are looking for ways to make (roadways) we have work more effectively and efficiently."
Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who is pushing the program and described it at a downtown press conference with Tidemanson, said: "It's a common sense plan to alleviate congestion and avoid stagnation."
Synchronizing traffic lights is not new; cities have been doing it for years. But Tidemanson said the program is intended to coordinate traffic lights along major streets that cross multiple city boundaries. For example, one of the boulevards the county proposes to improve, Aviation between Imperial Highway in Los Angeles and Prospect Avenue in Hermosa Beach, passes through six different jurisdictions.
The county would oversee contracts to synchronize such traffic lights, as well as provide matching grants to participating cities to install modern signal timing equipment.
Under a new state law, 43 cities in the county must endorse imposing the additional $1 vehicle registration fee for it to be collected. So far, 34 cities, including Los Angeles, have officially agreed. Tidemanson said he expects other cities to act soon.
In addition to Aviation Boulevard, the county tentatively plans to install the first phase of the program along sections of Grand Avenue in Glendora-West Covina, Florence Avenue in Los Angeles and Huntington Park, Prairie Avenue in Hawthorne-Lawndale, Crenshaw Boulevard in Gardena-Torrance, Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, Washington Boulevard in Commerce, Slauson Avenue in Montebello, Soledad Canyon Road in Saugus, Kanan Road in Agoura and Glenoaks Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.