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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Cascade Lane Traffic Will Face Barricade

April 23, 1992|JOHN PENNER

Capping 19 months of often contentious debate on an issue that has pitted neighbors against each other, the City Council this week agreed on a solution to the traffic problem that has plagued Cascade Lane.

Officials, who have sharply disagreed over how to stem traffic in the residential area, unanimously agreed Monday to install a collapsible barricade on Cascade Lane at the Westminster-Huntington Beach boundary.

In addition, signs will be posted at the entrance to the tract warning motorists that through-traffic is prohibited. City staff members in three months will report back to the council on how the solution is working.

The action rescinds the council's decision last month, which would have installed two permanent barriers in the neighborhood, forcing vehicles to travel a lengthy, S-shaped path through the tract. Unhappy residents pointed to a city staff report predicting that the measure would curtail but not eliminate the problem.

City staff members tout the new solution--about 20 collapsible reflector posts that will be affixed in a row across the street--as a compromise between the concerns of police and fire officials and the pleas of neighborhood residents.

Residents have complained that commuters zip through their neighborhood, via Temple Street and Cascade Lane, as a shortcut between Bolsa and McFadden avenues. Motorists have found the residential route a handy alternative to the frequent congestion on Beach Boulevard and Golden West Street.

More than 2,000 vehicles travel down Cascade Lane each day, according to city staff studies.

Neighbors from the outset have called for a barrier to halt the problem. But fire and police officials said that a roadblock would impede emergency response routes.

The collapsible barricade, however, will slow response times by only a few seconds, Police Chief Ronald E. Lowenberg and Fire Chief Michael P. Dolder said. The posts are hinged at the base, so emergency vehicles can run through them.

City officials are hoping that motorists won't drive through the barrier. Lowenberg said officers will monitor the area and cite motorists who do.

The move was applauded by most of the dozens of neighborhood residents who turned out for the public hearing on the issue. All of the council's previous actions to stem the problem, including last month's proposed two-barrier system, have been derided by residents as ineffective.

"The real problem is several thousand people who have turned our neighborhood into a personal freeway," said Paul Ashby, who lives on Whitney Drive, which intersects Cascade Lane. "The only thing that's going to work is to put a barricade at the city line."

But not all of the residents agreed that the collapsible barricade is a good idea.

"I'm opposed to any barricades," resident Tom Fairbanks told the council. "It's ridiculous. Please just leave our neighborhood alone and let us be."

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