Relocating a squeeze lane at the Corona del Mar entryway on East Coast Highway at MacArthur Boulevard worsened traffic congestion, received more negative than positive feedback from residents and should not be made permanent, according to a staff report included in a City Council meeting agenda posted online today.
Eight parking spaces that were removed during the traffic study also should not be replaced but be relocated elsewhere, possibly in part by making Carnation Avenue a one-way southbound street, the staff report said.
The traffic study was implemented in late June in order to study the impact of moving the squeeze lane, where three traffic lanes reduce to two, from Carnation to Acacia avenues. The study resulted from a beautification plan that would convert the former traffic lane to widened sidewalks with landscaping and other improvements.
City staff monitored the traffic study in person and by using closed circuit television cameras, the 25-page staff report said. Staff also installed traffic counters.
“During the mid-day peak hours on the summer weekends in the test periods, traffic regularly backed up beyond Avocado Avenue,” the report states. “Although not in every signal cycle, the traffic did occasionally back-up during the weekday peak hour test period extending beyond Avocado Avenue.”
A major concern, the report said, was that traffic turning left from MacArthur had just two lanes instead of three under the original configuration, causing traffic to back up on MacArthur. Also, residents who wanted to use the third lane to turn onto Carnation Avenue no longer could do so as quickly.
The report states that traffic was lighter than typical during the study, but that when the economy improves and more visitors and tourists make Corona del Mar a destination, that traffic could be worse.
The report also described community outreach, including a dedicated website, phone number and online survey. In all, 52 surveys were received, with 26 very dissatisfied, five dissatisfied, two neutral, two satisfied, 16 very satisfied and one that did not answer. Thirty six respondents said they experienced a delay, while 16 said they did not.
The City Council could decide to remove the temporary traffic markings and return to the original configuration, or to modify the plan. If the Council decides to relocate the on-street parking permanently, the report said, that area could be used for landscape improvements. Removing the parking spaces, staff said, would improve safety because typically parking is not permitted in the middle of intersections.
The traffic study was key to moving forward on a beautification plan that a Citizens Advisory Panel voted on in December. The City Council approved the conceptual plans in February, and the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District agreed to pay for the traffic study before the plans moved forward.
Plans to improve the entryway date back to 1998, Councilman Ed Selich has said. Corona del Mar B.I.D. board member and member of the Corona del Mar citizens group Bernie Svalstad said earlier today he had not reviewed the staff report and declined to comment.
The City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers at City Hall at 3300 Newport Blvd. The public may attend and make comments.
Read our earlier stories here, click here. To read more about the beautification project, click here or here.