David Raber’s July 13 letter to the editor, “Alternatives to Reduce a Canyon Bottleneck” presents a brilliant idea: get Caltrans to de-commission the entire El Toro Road/133 intersection and remove the traffic light. It sounds a bit unrealistic, but read on. It solves a whole host of problems.
Traffic incoming to Laguna via El Toro Road could be easily diverted to SR 133 via existing feeder routes. Conveniently, they are already toll-free. Only a single two-to-one-lane bottleneck on the 133 is needed. It already exists, right there near the 73, and drivers are reasonably well behaved when merging. Signage saying, “Merge like a Zipper,” might help further. I’ve seen this sign on New Zealand roads.
The purported reason for the currently proposed Caltrans project is to ameliorate congestion around the El Toro Road intersection. Raber’s proposal would eliminate these problems entirely. In addition, nearly all of the myriad problems raised by the Laguna Canyon Foundation—the excessive take of open space, loss of priceless old oak trees, massive scarring of hillsides, exacerbated in/out difficulties at the Willow Staging area parking, etc., would be resolved in favor of retaining the beauty of the canyon that defines us. Anneliese School traffic would breathe easier.
Caltrans wants to spend $39 million on this project. The Raber proposal could cost a fraction of that. And the abandoned section of El Toro Road could become a scenic bicycle path.
Caltrans has brought this problem on itself by creating two bottlenecks instead of one. Now it wants to retain this unfortunate planning and push the second bottleneck 800 yards further down the canyon. Give ‘em an inch, and they’ll take a mile! Indeed, this plan exposes their long-term goal of getting two lanes all the way to the beach. That would be a disaster for us. There is simply nowhere for the increased traffic to go on already-crowded PCH, let alone find parking. When it comes to cars, Laguna is already full.
The queue on the 133 to get into Laguna might stretch longer, but then people would have more opportunity to make a U-turn and come back when the traffic is not so insane.
Indeed, we’d all be saner.
Chris Reed, Laguna Beach