As many neighbors predicted, recent Purple Line subway construction at the Wilshire-La Brea intersection has led many drivers to take other local streets instead of Wilshire, even at times when Wilshire isn’t fully closed and no official detours are in effect. For residents of the Miracle Mile area, this added traffic has often led to both speeding cars and what Miracle Mile Residential Association Vice President Ken Hixon calls “gridlock conditions” along 8th Street, between La Brea and Fairfax.
Fortunately for the neighborhood, however, the MMRA began the process of working out a Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Plan (NTMP) with the city about a year before the current Metro construction began. And as a result of the plan, and the recent increase in both traffic and collisions on 8th Street, two new four-way stops have now been installed at 8th and Detroit, and 8th and Cloverdale.
“We had mitigation funds from LACMA for the vacation of Ogden between Wilshire and 6th (when they unified the campus after purchasing the May Co.),” Hixon told the Buzz. “We used these funds for the NTMP. The advent of subway construction and the implementation of the Wilshire bus lane was what motivated us.”
Despite the funding and increased motivation, however, there was still a lot of city bureaucracy to get through before the signs could be installed.
“LADOT has all of these formulas and hurdles that must be cleared,” Hixon said. “Many of them dictated by the state’s uniform traffic codes. It largely comes down to traffic counts and accident rates. The rub there is that LAPD only takes reports on collisions and crashes that result in personal injury. But we rallied our residents to take photos and send them in to the MMRA. When [MMRA President] Jim [O’Sullivan] and I met with [City Council Member David] Ryu and LADOT we had a dozen photos, several depicting how vehicles had spun out onto sidewalks.
“Our case for Detroit and Cloverdale was strengthened by the uptick in collisions there and the impact of subway construction on Wilshire.”
Hixon said that since the NTMP was approved by the Department of Transportation earlier this year, the neighborhood’s sole objective has been to enhance safety, for both drivers and pedestrians. And the new signs are a step toward that goal.
It may be a while, however, before the signs take full effect. When the Buzz visited yesterday, it was quickly obvious that many people who are used to unimpeded intersections on at Detroit and Cloverdale either haven’t noticed, or haven’t quite accepted, the new installations. A significant number of cars (especially those making right turns) didn’t even slow down at the signs…and many more slowed slightly, but then rolled through without coming to a complete stop.
“Compliance is always an issue,” Hixon said, “particularly with a newly installed sign. As time goes by, hopefully, compliance will improve.” Enforcement support from the city would help greatly, he added.
“I live near 8th and Genesee, which has had an all-way stop sign for about 20 years — yet, I regularly see motorists doing rolling stops or just blowing through. On rare occasions (about twice a year) we will get a motorcycle officer staked out there and it’s like shooting ducks in a barrel. They catch a new offender as fast as they can write the tickets.
“So many of our traffic woes and safety issues would abate,” he continued, “if LAPD properly budgeted for effective traffic enforcement, not just in the Miracle Mile, but citywide.”
For now, though, Hixon and his neighbors are very happy that their negotiations were effective and the signs have been installed. “Simply put, this is a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease,” Hixon said. “David Ryu really did come through for us.”
Finally, it’s worth noting that there may be at least one more new four-way stop coming along 8th Street. The Sycamore Square neighborhood, just east of La Brea, has also been feeling the stress of increased cut-through traffic along its section of 8th Street…and is also seeking at least one new 4-way stop, at the intersection of 8th and Orange Drive.
Like Miracle Mile, Sycamore Square had a Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Plan done a few years ago, when the big new Wilshire-La Brea development was approved. The city agreed at that time (in the ordinance passed for the project) to install 4-way stops at 8th and Sycamore, and 8th and Orange. According to Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association board members, the Sycamore signs were installed during the development’s construction…and the SSNA is now working with City Council District 4 and the Department of Transportation to have the Orange Drive signs installed as well. CD4 spokesperson Estevan Montemayor told the Buzz the city is currently in the process of determining whether the original traffic study for the area is still valid, or whether a new study will be necessary before the promised signs can be installed.