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Dear Street Smart: When a street is being resurfaced...

October 17, 1994

Dear Street Smart:

When a street is being resurfaced, why is the crew that roughens up the old surface not better coordinated with the crew that lays down the new one? It seems that motorists must deal with the grooves and ruts for weeks or months, not to mention lack of lane markings before the new pavement is poured.

A current example is Vineland Avenue between Riverside Drive and Ventura Boulevard. It has been gouged up for more than a month with no new asphalt in sight!

David Kunz

North Hollywood

Dear Reader:

We agree that driving over roads in the process of being repaved can make your teeth chatter more than a chilly winter's night.

But according to Lionel Citizen of the city's Bureau of Street Maintenance, that shouldn't happen on any one stretch of road for more than three to four weeks.

For resurfacing, if the street is structurally sound and doesn't need major repair, work crews first shave off the top two inches or so of asphalt, leaving behind the grooved and rutted surface that makes you shake like an overdose of caffeine. Citizen says it has to be rough, or else the new asphalt would have nothing to adhere to and would creep along the street as a sticky ooze.

After the first crew finishes skimming off the top, the repaving crew should come along within the month.

"Theoretically it should be three weeks between crews," Citizen says. "No more than three weeks."

Theoretically.

Of course, bad weather or delays in previously scheduled projects can throw the schedule off. Utility companies might want to do their own work in the area, making use of the exposed street but holding up the repaving process.

As for that stretch of Vineland Avenue in North Hollywood you mentioned, Citizen says paving could begin today, and would take two to four days.

Theoretically.

Dear Street Smart:

Someone (Caltrans?) has recently placed a "No Right Turn on Red" sign at the entrance to the westbound Ventura Freeway from the southbound side of DeSoto Avenue. I travel this route frequently, and find this has become an irritant on my commute home in the evening.

As one approaches this on-ramp, traffic along DeSoto heading south toward the freeway moves at a snail's pace. Then, when you're lucky enough to get onto the on-ramp, a red meter signal awaits you at the end even though there are no other cars waiting before you. You have to brake and proceed after the light has turned green.

They should: 1) remove the "No Right Turn on Red" sign, because it only adds to the congestion on DeSoto, and 2) have the meter signal idle at green when there is no one waiting at the light, rather than defaulting to red.

Please pass this letter on.

Jeff Friedman

Westlake Village

Dear Reader:

We did pass your letter on to Caltrans, which shares jurisdiction over the "No Right Turn on Red" sign with the city of Los Angeles.

According to spokesman Rick Holland, the sign was put up because of traffic in the other direction.

Motorists headed north on DeSoto who want to get onto the westbound Ventura Freeway on-ramp have two left-turn lanes that feed directly onto the two lanes of the on-ramp. The no-right-turn sign protects those northbound DeSoto drivers turning left onto the freeway in the outer lane, who would clash with commuters like you wanting to turn right onto the same on-ramp from the opposite direction.

As for the meter signal, an electronic sensor should detect your presence as you approach the light and make you brake just momentarily before you proceed onto the freeway. The wait shouldn't be too long.

"He should be able to go in a couple of seconds, so what's his complaint?" said Holland.

Dear Readers:

This Wednesday is Caltrans' statewide "Safety Stand Down" Day, when the agency takes time to review all its safety procedures in the field and office. The first such safety day was initiated three years ago after five highway workers were killed during a three-month period.

The agency reviews its procedures on weather hazards, working in the road close to high-speed traffic, night working conditions, proper clothing for easy visibility and other safety measures. Spokesman Rick Holland said motorists are encouraged to give thought to the same issues and their own responsibilities as drivers, and can give input on safety to the agency by writing to Caltrans at 120 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, 90012.

Street Smart appears Mondays in The Times Valley Edition. Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about traffic, commuting and what makes it difficult to get around the Valley. Include simple sketches if helpful. Letters may be published in upcoming columns. Please write to Street Smart, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, Calif. 91311. Include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted. To record your comments, call (818) 772-3303. Send fax letters to (818) 772-3385.

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