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VALLEY FOCUS | Canoga Park

New Traffic Light May Help Merchants

March 13, 1998|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

It took more than a decade to persuade the city of Los Angeles to install a traffic signal at the corner of Sherman Way and Remmet Avenue, but it took only a few minutes to dedicate the new light.

At a short ceremony Thursday morning attended by about a dozen merchants, City Councilwoman Laura Chick said that for a long time the philosophy of the city's Department of Transportation was to keep traffic moving.

But the signal, she said, represents the city working together with businesses to improve the area.

"We're saying, 'We get it,' " she said. "Yes, we want to keep traffic moving, and deal with the congestion on our streets. But we also want to find ways to be business-friendly."

Since the late 1980s, merchants along Sherman Way's Antique Row have lobbied for a signal at the intersection, wanting a safer way for their customers to cross the busy street.

"Sherman Way [traffic] runs so quickly, people don't have a chance to stop and see these wonderful stores, these wonderful buildings and what they hold," said Shelly Samborsky, president of the Canoga Park/West Hills Chamber of Commerce.

City officials said that normally the intersection would not be eligible for a signal, in part because there are stop lights at intersections one block to the east and west.

But the right pieces fell together recently--the revitalization of the business district, the support of the council district office and the availability of funds to install the lights--to pave the way for a new light.

City officials said the light installation cost about $90,000, half of which was paid by the Community Redevelopment Agency using funds earmarked for the revitalization of the Canoga Park business district.

But not everyone was pleased.

Chick spoke with a longtime resident who questioned the need for the signal and worried that the light would turn Remmet into a thoroughfare.

Chick assured the woman that she believed the light would not increase traffic and would instead make the area safer.

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