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Valley Perspective | SECOND OPINION

Bus-Only Route on Chandler Is Unsafe

February 18, 2001|M. FRITZ FRIEDMAN | M. Fritz Friedman is a member of the Concerned Citizens Transit Coalition steering committee

It is gratifying to see that the efforts of Concerned Citizens Transit Coalition are generating discussion about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's plans for bus-only lanes on Chandler Boulevard. But it is disturbing that The Times has taken a stance before public meetings on the issue and completion of a $12.3-million environmental impact study.

Concerned Citizens supports a deep-bore subway as the best choice for Chandler. But confronted with the MTA's refusal to build an east-west subway in the Valley, we favor the federally mandated Transit System Management alternative the MTA itself proposed a year ago: a rapid-bus route on Oxnard Street.

Our primary reason for opposing the Chandler route is safety. There are 14 schools, at least nine retirement and health care facilities and two fire stations flanking the route. This "light rail on rubber tires" would necessitate a minimum of six separate light-changing sequences at every intersection. Any person or vehicle caught in the 105-foot-wide intersections could be blindsided by the buses. Also consider that the two busiest of the intersections, Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Coldwater Canyon Avenue, are the primary street routes for north-south commuters headed out of the San Fernando Valley. This is clearly a recipe for disaster; engineers confirm this.

If Concerned Citizens members were NIMBYS, why would we support the MTA's other bus alternative for our neighborhood? Is it NIMBY to support a route that would serve local businesses, shopping centers, Valley College and our lower-income neighbors, among many other advantages?

The Times says that California's energy crisis could sap state funds, but shouldn't that auger well for a plan costing at most $2 million, versus an estimated $25 million for the Chandler plan?

"MTA Plan Deserves a Chance," cries the headline. But what would you consider a fair chance before demanding that this multimillion-dollar experiment be abandoned? Should we wait for one accident a week and five fatalities a year? That's the mass-transit disaster record held by the MTA, the wonderful folks who brought you the Blue Line.

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