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STREET SMART

Good Call by Driver Weary of Intersection's Busy Signal

November 04, 1996|JEFF McDONALD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Dear Street Smart:

The corner of Valentine Road and Victoria Avenue in Ventura needs a green arrow installed for drivers making a left from Valentine onto northbound Victoria.

People have to wait a long time for the light to change, and when it finally does change, most of them forget that oncoming traffic has the right of way.

However, it is the best place in the city to play chicken if you are going west on Valentine Road across Victoria.

Bob Warren, Ventura

Dear Reader:

It's bad now, city engineers say, but it will get better.

City officials admit that the existing configuration and timing sequence at the Victoria-Valentine intersection is one of the most complex in the city.

The way the traffic lights are timed, those at the southbound Ventura Freeway offramps are designed to coincide with the Valentine Road lights, said Nazir Lalani, the city's top traffic engineer.

"They have the same green going on at the same time, and that drives the way that whole intersection operates," he said.

The existing timing sequence allows the most cars to use all of the traffic lights at the freeway on- and offramps and at intersections on both sides of the freeway, he said.

But there is hope.

The city is designing a new, $9.3-million interchange that will result in a Valentine Road that is eight lanes wide, with the southbound freeway offramp moved to a new island west of Salzer's Records.

And there will also be left-turn arrows at the new interchange.

The project has already been funded and design is underway, Lalani said. But the 18-month project will not begin construction until next September.

By the way, the Victoria-Valentine intersection is second only to the intersection of Main Street and Mills Road as the busiest corner in Ventura.

****

Dear Street Smart:

Since there is so much traffic on 5th Street in Oxnard, why can't there be a traffic light at 5th Street and Wood Road just outside the Oxnard city limits?

Sometimes it is almost impossible to make a left-hand turn there. I've heard many people say the same thing.

Dorothy McMillan, Ventura

Dear Reader:

Engineers from Caltrans maintain that section of 5th Street because it is a state highway. Based on your inquiry, they conducted another review of the existing conditions at that corner.

The bad news for you is that the analysis convinced them that they don't need a traffic light at the intersection.

"Installing signal devices could increase the overall delay and could also reduce the capacity of the intersection," Caltrans spokeswoman Pat Reid said.

All is not lost, however. State engineers plan to make some improvements to that section of highway.

"Caltrans has a project in the works to install a left-turn lane on Route 34 [5th Street] at Wood Road," Reid said.

****

Dear Street Smart:

This problem is not in Ventura County, but it concerns a lot of us who commute often to West Los Angeles.

When leaving UCLA to return to our home in the avocado orchards, I take the Sunset Boulevard ramp north to Sepulveda, which leads to the San Diego Freeway. At the bottom of the ramp, there is a sharp right turn onto Sepulveda to get to the northbound freeway onramp.

Whenever I make that turn, I stay as close to the right side as possible to avoid being sideswiped by the northbound Sepulveda traffic sweeping by in the next lane.

As I hug the right shoulder, I invariably get a blow from the curb to my right back tire. Since there is never any pedestrian traffic at this point, would it not be possible to have a sloping curb there that is more gentle on tires?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Dora P. Crouch, Santa Paula

Dear Reader:

The obvious answer is yes, the curb could be sloped if traffic engineers conclude that the improvement is warranted.

But it won't happen any time soon, according to Los Angeles city traffic engineers.

The access lane you ask about feeds into northbound Sepulveda with its own lanes, allowing plenty of room for cars--and even buses--to wend their way toward the San Diego Freeway, said Wilbur Takashima, a traffic engineer for the City of Angels.

"It's a standard radius there," he said. "It sounds like she's hugging the curb more than she has to."

Takashima said that if a high number of accidents occurred at that corner, they might ask public works crews to change the curb pattern, but so far that has not proved necessary.

"That protective lane goes quite a ways down Sepulveda," he said. "We've always had adequate width there."

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