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Traffic Talk

Who Calls the Shots on Potholes?

October 08, 1999|ROBERTO J. MANZANO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Traffic Talk:

Over the past year, I have noticed the city of Los Angeles repaving streets in the Valley. What rationale do they use? They will pave Victory Boulevard, which needed it, but also pave side streets that are barely used.

I have also noticed laborers only work on streets that are completely asphalt. I use Vineland, Tujunga, Colfax and Cahuenga and these streets have potholes, dips and cracks as big as the Grand Canyon.

Are they planning to ever repair those streets, or do they work only on streets that are totally asphalt?

--A.C. Lozano

North Hollywood

Dear A.C.:

The city works on all kinds of streets--concrete, asphalt, combinations of both and even brick--following a computerized system that rates their condition, said Gregory L. Scott, director of the bureau of street services for the city's Department of Public Works.

The city also logs customer requests to consider which streets to fix, he said.

"The whole function of the system is to keep streets in danger of reaching a fail condition . . . and applying some of the money to streets that have already failed," Scott said.

About 80% of the budget for street repairs each year goes toward failed streets and the remainder toward those in danger of failing, Scott said.

"If you wait to fix a street until it looks bad, guess what? It is bad and it's going to cost more to fix it," he said.

Of the 6,500 miles of city streets, 220 miles will be repaired this year, Scott said. This year's budget for street repairs is $45 million.

Major streets, which are heavily damaged by trucks and buses, are repaired about every 16 years, residential streets about every 30 years, Scott said.

Upcoming repairs include: Colfax Avenue between Oxnard Street and Chandler Boulevard, for $169,000; Cahuenga Boulevard between Odin Street and Franklin Avenue, for $93,000; and several other portions of Tujunga and Vineland avenues.

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Dear Traffic Talk:

I access the Ventura Freeway eastbound onramp at Shoup Avenue and Ventura Boulevard on weekday mornings. It entails making a left-hand turn off Ventura Boulevard, where there is a signal with a left-turn arrow.

The oncoming traffic on Ventura is very light at that hour, and it's common for many cars to be stopped in the left-turn lane waiting for the green arrow.

An increasing number of vehicles proceed past the signal on Ventura and make an immediate left turn into an onramp opening meant for westbound traffic. Such left turns are a way to avoid the red light on the eastbound ramp, and the turns are over solid double yellow lines. Are such turns legal?

--Bud Flach

West Hills

Dear Bud:

Making a left turn there is illegal, said Officer Randy Bowman, West Valley complaint officer for the Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Traffic Division.

It is also illegal to make a U-turn in a business district and to cross over a set of double solid yellow lines, Bowman said. The double set of lines should be treated like a raised median.

If there are broken yellow lines inside double solid yellow lines, then a driver may enter within the lines to make a left turn into a business, he said.

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Traffic Talk appears Fridays in The Times Valley Edition. Readers may submit comments and questions about traffic in the Valley to Traffic Talk, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted. Fax letters to (818) 772-3385. E-mail questions to valley.news@latimes.com.

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