Letter: Stoplights in South Laguna

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I hope this letter reaches our city leaders.

Last summer, the city repaved South Coast Highway (SCH) in South Laguna, from Aliso Creek to Three Arch. The road looks great. The problem is, the City didn’t finish the job.

As part of the project, the City changed (or allowed the contractors to change) the timing of the stoplights on that section of SCH. The lights at 3rd, 7th and 9th Avenues, as well as Vista Del Sol, were changed to turn red much more frequently, even when no crossing traffic or pedestrians are present. I’m sure this change helped the workers stay safe and be more efficient. However, the project finished long ago and the lights have never been returned to their previous, more efficient operating conditions.

It now takes an extra two to three minutes to navigate this section of Laguna Beach, even late at night (yeah, I’m a nerd and track this sort of thing). Southbound traffic regularly backs up from 9th all the way to West Street. Northbound traffic backs up from 3rd to Vista Del Sol. Before the roads were repaved, the lights used sensors to determine if pedestrians or cross traffic needed to cross SCH, and gave preference to the higher traffic loads of those traveling on SCH. Now, the stoplights are on timers and turn red regardless of time of day or whether any cross traffic or pedestrians are even present.

An extra two to three minutes may not sound like much, but thousands of vehicles pass through that area each day. Even a conservative estimate of 5,000 cars per day means drivers are spending an extra 150 hours of waiting at these stoplights every day (go ahead, pull out a napkin and do the math). Think of what people could accomplish with those extra 150 hours back in their lives? Also, those 150 hours consume 75 extra gallons of gas and emit 30 extra tons of CO2 pollution over the course of a year. The conversion tables for these calculations are readily available on the internet. And then there’s the extra noise pollution from all the drivers who resort to honking and yelling at others due to their frustration (I may be guilty of this).

Will the city please finish the work it started last summer and fix the stoplights in South Laguna? I know my family, neighbors and our environment will be very happy.

David Olson, Laguna Beach

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  1. Your quote ” It now takes an extra two or three minutes” to navigate through S Laguna is exactly why the lights have changed. Two of the most dangerous crosswalks in Laguna are Eagle and West Street. People have died as motorists from the south race through the crosswalks at 50 MPH !!! Stop complaining about 2 minutes and SAVE A LIFE !

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