Dear Street Smart:
I want an update on an issue that I know you have covered before--the lane width on northbound MacArthur Boulevard north of Ford Road where Irvine and Newport Beach adjoin. I know that Caltrans said it was planning on taking care of it later. When is later?
You should understand that Caltrans recently widened MacArthur Boulevard down the hill 100 yards or so, and it is three lanes wide from there all the way to the San Diego Freeway. Caltrans also widened the northbound lanes just south of the intersection with Ford so it is three lanes and includes a right-turn lane.
The problem is that it narrows back down to two lanes almost immediately. This narrowing causes a crunch because some people have changed into the far right lane just before the intersection to get around cars. But after the intersection, they have to move back a lane to the left.
That is dangerous because they also have to avoid people trying to enter from Ford Road into what looks like their entry lane.
What is really silly is that when Caltrans widened MacArthur, it put all the added width into the center divider lane and into the southbound lanes, which didn't need it.
There are four southbound lanes from Bison Avenue to Ford. Only three of them are marked, but frequently people use all the width available. There is no way the traffic needs all of that width. It's needed on the other side of the road.
My suggestion is that Caltrans reconfigure the striping to all three lanes up and three down instead of four and two. If that can't be done, the far right lane before the Ford Road intersection should be made a right-turn only, a change that would keep motorists from using it as a blast-through lane. That would allow a driver to turn right from Ford Road onto MacArthur without having the fear of being run down.
Corona del Mar
The most recent improvements to the MacArthur Boulevard-Ford Road intersection were completed by the city of Newport Beach, responded Rose Orem, a Caltrans spokeswoman. The improvement project you mentioned provides a third northbound lane that allows more vehicles to pass through the signalized intersection, she said.
Caltrans reviewed the accident history for this location and did not find a high occurrence of accidents, Orem said. Traffic engineers maintain that the two northbound lanes are enough to accommodate current peak traffic volumes. Besides, the most recent traffic count indicated that more vehicles travel southbound during the morning commute, she said.
There are plans to begin construction in 1996 to widen MacArthur Boulevard to three lanes in each direction from East Coast Highway to Ford Road, Orem said. And within the next two to five years, there are planned improvements for MacArthur north of Ford as part of a realignment to provide access to the San Joaquin Hills Toll Road, she said.
Dear Street Smart:
This letter is written to request information concerning the design of freeways not only in Orange County, but in almost the entire state.
It seems that not much thought was given for entering and exiting freeways. Lines of traffic, especially in South Orange County, are almost always backed up on both the entrance and exit ramps, causing horrendous tie-ups and unsafe conditions.
Either synchronization with surface traffic signals at these junctures was not well thought out, or perhaps basic design flaws existed from early planning and design.
For example, thruways, parkways and expressways in the East are designed with a cloverleaf design as the basis for entering and exiting. When traffic enters or exits, it does so in its own independent space, not tied up with left or right turns off the freeways, or in lanes that serve as freeway entrances.
It seems California has gone out of its way to do just the opposite. How many times have you heard people remark, "I got off the freeway there, but I couldn't find the entrance to get back on!"
Also, could you explain why freeway crossings in some areas are labeled "separations" as opposed to other areas where they are called "intersections."
Too many vehicles, not design flaws, are the reason for traffic tie-ups at the intersection of local streets with freeway entrance and exit ramps, Caltrans spokeswoman Rose Orem said. Any time the demand exceeds the capacity, as it does during peak commuter hours, motorists will experience congestion regardless of synchronized lights, she said.
Caltrans is responsible for most traffic signals where local streets join freeway ramps. The local agency, that is, the city or county, is responsible for all other traffic signals on local streets. In a few instances, Caltrans has granted the local agency control of the traffic signals at the intersection where a local street meets with a freeway ramp, Orem said.