Letter: Modeling Carmageddon

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How do you like Laguna’s traffic congestion? Get ready for more, because last Tuesday night, the Laguna Beach City Council voted 5-0 on an item I believe guarantees increased car traffic in Laguna Beach.

Agenda Item #16 Task Order for a Traffic Analysis Model said in brief: “Our City is near build-out, there are several large re-development projects that propose use intensification within the City that may increase local traffic congestion.”

Our LB Public Works department is preparing for traffic congestion caused by these redevelopment projects—some of them scheduled for construction simultaneously. LB Public Works relies on a consultant to embellish a computer traffic model of Laguna’s main road corridors through downtown. The consultant’s traffic model is car-centric; they measure transportation success by moving more cars faster, so get ready for more traffic erosion through Laguna Beach.

Reading the consultant’s traffic modeling manual shows how car intensification occurs: “saturation flow rates,” “pedestrian interference,” “Intersection Capacity Utilization (ICU),” “Level of (car) Service (LOS),” “Conforms to Highway Capacity Manual (HCM).”

The keywords “transit, bus, trolley, rail, lightrail, and cyclists” don’t appear in the consultant’s manual.  “Pedestrians” are considered interference to car traffic; a delay in signal timing. Two arterial highways already slice through Laguna Beach; does Laguna want more of the same?

Once again, our Council neglects the core problems: how to move those six million visitors and provide alternatives to cars. Once again, Public Works overlooked the Laguna Beach mobility plan itself: the Circulation Element of the General Plan. Now is the time for the city and developers to change traffic models, otherwise Laguna Beach is modeling Carmageddon.

Les Miklosy, Laguna Beach

 

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