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2nd Left-Turn Lane Right Idea at Dana Point Intersection


Dear Street Smart:

To reduce a traffic congestion problem at small expense, I'd like to propose something for Acapulco Drive at Street of the Golden Lantern in Dana Point. Leaving Dana Hills High School on Acapulco, there are three lanes at the intersection with Golden Lantern.

I propose to leave the right lane as a right-turn-only lane and the left lane as a left-turn-only lane, but the center lane, which normally carries little through traffic, could be changed to a left, right or straight lane. I think this solution would ease traffic considerably.

What is the city of Dana Point's feeling on this?

Dianne Macondray

San Juan Capistrano

Dear Reader:

Great minds obviously think alike. Dana Point is currently in the process of implementing part of your suggestion.

"We are looking at the possibility of an additional left-turn lane," said Sandra Doubleday, traffic engineering technician for Dana Point.

If the city decides to go ahead with that plan, it must change the signal timing and also modify the street markings and install signs, Doubleday said. The signal timing would need to be changed because the potential for collisions is greater when two lanes turn left on a green light than when just one is making the turn.

Creating a right-turn option from the center lane is not being considered, Doubleday said, because motorists can turn right on a red light and traffic in that lane clears fairly quickly.

The modifications needed for creating a left turn from the center lane have been budgeted for the next fiscal year, which begins in July, said Doubleday.

Dear Street Smart:

When exiting the San Gabriel River Freeway to 7th Street in Seal Beach, there are several dead-end cutoffs that seem to be part of some planned but never built ramps. I would appreciate an explanation.

Mark Schneider

Seal Beach

Dear Reader:

The 7th Street off-ramp from the San Gabriel River Freeway merges with the Garden Grove Freeway before it continues into 7th Street and intersects with Pacific Coast Highway. In the 1960s, the California Department of Transportation had proposed extending the San Gabriel River and Garden Grove freeways to Pacific Coast Highway, said Rose Orem, spokeswoman for Caltrans.

The Route 1 Project, as it was known, called for upgrading Pacific Coast Highway into a full-fledged freeway. Under the proposal, the San Gabriel River Freeway was to intersect with Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach and the Garden Grove Freeway was to intersect with Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach, Orem said.

Due to lack of funding, however, the San Gabriel River and Garden Grove freeway extension to Pacific Coast Highway was deleted from the state freeway system, Orem said. Currently, the Route 1 Project is no longer part of the Pacific Coast Highway concept, and Caltrans has no plans for the area, Orem said.

Dear Street Smart:

A car carrying two or more people entering southbound traffic on the Santa Ana Freeway from Sand Canyon Avenue in east Irvine cannot enter the car-pool lane and then utilize the off-ramp at Barranca Parkway, which is just down the freeway. That's because the car-pool enter/exit lane ends just before the Sand Canyon Avenue on-ramp.

This ought to be corrected, because the Barranca Parkway off-ramp leads directly to the Amtrak train station. If you're not in the car-pool lane, you have to take the next exit, Alton Parkway, and do a little double backing to get to the train station.

Is it in the plans--when the six-lane freeway is completed--to extend the car-pool enter/exit lane to allow Sand Canyon Avenue traffic access to the car-pool lane? If not, the planning committee should evaluate the pros and cons of extending the car-pool lane there.

Don Sison


Dear Reader:

The purpose of car-pool lanes is to reduce the number of cars on the freeway for the long-distance driver. It would not be practical to use the car-pool lane for this short-distance trip, said Joe El Harake, high-occupancy vehicle coordinator for Caltrans.

The reason no enter/exit location was installed in advance of Barranca Parkway is that the merge distance between the southbound on-ramp from Sand Canyon Avenue and the entrance to the car-pool lane for the Barranca Parkway off-ramp did not meet the state's design standards, said El Harake.

"This design standard was established to (keep) vehicles from having to make several rapid lane changes in order to access the facility or exit the freeway," El Harake said. "Furthermore, due to the short distance, the Alton Parkway off-ramp can be used to accommodate those vehicles needing to access Barranca Parkway."

Street Smart appears Mondays in The Times Orange County Edition. Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about traffic, commuting and what makes it difficult to get around in Orange County. Include simple sketches if helpful. Letters may be published in upcoming columns. Please write to Caroline Lemke, c/o Street Smart, The Times Orange County Edition, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626. Include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted.

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