Planned Entrada Sidewalk Generates Heated Debate

By LAUREL BUSBY

Staff Writer

 

Both proponents and opponents of a new sidewalk on Entrada Drive agree on one thing. The street is dangerous for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists.

They sharply disagree though on whether a new sidewalk, which would stretch along the south (or east) side of Entrada that currently has a footpath, and a slightly narrowed road would reduce those dangers. For about two hours they voiced their opinions April 12 at the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association’s monthly meeting before the board voted 13-4 to recommend that the project move forward.

The proposed sidewalk would run along the south side of Entrada between Amalfi (across from Canyon School) and Adelaide (on the canyon rim). To accommodate the sidewalk, Entrada would be narrowed from 40 to 37 feet. Driving lanes would remain the same width at 11 feet each, but the shoulders would be reduced by 1-1/2 feet on each side to 7 feet wide each or the double-double yellow line in the middle of the road near Kingman would be reduced to one double yellow line to accommodate the reduced width.

Construction is slated to begin in the summer after Canyon Elementary is no longer in session, although no dates have been set yet, according to Debbie Dyner Harris, from L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office. Bonin supports the project.

“You can live with doing nothing or you can do something,” said Harris, who attended the meeting to listen to residents’ concerns and answer questions about the project. “We have a potential safety solution.”

The $700,000 project, which is funded by a Highway Safety Improvement Program grant, can only be used on the south side of Entrada, because of the grant’s restrictions, according to the board and Harris. City traffic engineers determined that the south side had the greatest need for improvement. Harris also said in order to use the public right of way instead of narrowing the road, a retaining wall would be needed, and the expense of such a wall made that option cost prohibitive.

Harris promised to tackle some problems with the north side, which has a partial, but substandard sidewalk. She promised to work to remove some utility poles dotting parts of it and also to investigate the possibility of installing a traffic light at Kingman to slow traffic and reduce accidents at the intersection. A resident who lives at that corner said that six accidents had occurred on rainy April 8 alone.

More than 35 members of the community attended the board meeting, and almost two dozen of them expressed their views, which ranged from pleas to put in the sidewalk and enhance pedestrian safety to vehement requests not to narrow the roadway and reduce car maneuverability. Some wondered why the sidewalk couldn’t encroach on the public right of way in neighbors’ yards instead of into the street. Slightly more residents spoke against the project than in support of it.

More than a dozen SMCCA board members also spoke, sometimes passionately, about their views on the sidewalk. Some members stressed how talks about this issue had gone on for years, and that it was time to install the sidewalk and improve safety. This was the dominant position of the board members, although a few expressed strong opinions against the proposal.

“I’m very much against it,” board member Henry Lichstein said. “Pushing cars together on a steep, sharp curve is a good way to increase accidents.”

Both Harris and several board members shared the city traffic engineers’ differing view that the plan will calm traffic and reduce accidents. Emile Levisetti mentioned research from the Transportation Research Record advising that a one-meter reduction in street width reduces driver speeds by 9.4 miles per hour on average, which consequently reduces traffic accidents.

The board took two votes. The first vote was a motion from Wes Hough not to support the plan. It was rejected by a vote of 6-14. The second vote supported the project.

“I deeply sympathize with residents’ concerns,” said board member Melissa Campos just before voting began. “Please don’t let the current situation affect the proposed plan. This is going to make things better.”

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