Letter to the Editor: Getting ‘street smart’

Los Cerritos resident and long-time community activist John Deats calls the proposed Pacific Avenue Bike Corridor project, at least the part through his Los Cerritos neighborhood, insane. And he’s right. Unfortunately, it’s just the latest in a long line of money-wasting, worse-than-useless projects by a City that is already broke and can’t even afford sufficient police and fire protection.
Long Beach thinks it’s reassuring to residents when they tell you that projects such as this will be financed all or partially with “grant money”– as if it still didn’t ultimately come from taxpayers.
The current fiasco proposes spending over $1 million on a bike path with “roundabouts” in Los Cerritos like those on Vista Street in Belmont Heights. Hopefully, it will be better planned. Can you believe the City actually constructed one of these small “traffic circles” on busy Ximeno Avenue where it intersects Vista Street, but made it too small for busses and emergency vehicles to navigate, and then had to rebuild it?
The most absurd part of the current plan, however, is installing a new traffic signal at Pacific Avenue and Wardlow Road. Likely, this is another in a long line of expensive ideas dreamed up by a few Los Cerritos residents to discourage people from going through their neighborhood.
Two years ago their plan was to get then-councilmember Rae Gabelich to close the pedestrian walkway under the San Diego Freeway that Wrigley area residents use to get to Los Cerritos School and Los Cerritos Park. One day, without notice, local residents just found the gates welded shut.
A number of years before that, their idea was to erect a barricade on Pacific Avenue just north of the San Diego Freeway to completely bar traffic to or from Wardlow Road. A dozen residents from Los Cerritos and Wrigley Heights met every month for a year with a traffic consultant hired by the City– another waste of tens of thousands of dollars. It was clear from a preliminary study that traffic through Los Cerritos was actually very light. But apparently to appease the Los Cerritos residents, the meetings and studies continued.
Maybe worse than the money wasted is what this new traffic signal will actually do. It makes the fourth signalized intersection drivers will have to navigate in just one-half mile on Wardlow between Magnolia Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard. As it is, during rush hours, traffic frequently backs up to the top of the bridge over the Los Angeles River, as one train after another causes crossing gates to repeatedly close.
Many years before this bicycle path was even proposed, local residents petitioned the City and the MTA (now Metro) to give us a little relief from Blue Line trains blocking traffic so often and for so long. We were promised some improvement, but we’re still waiting. Instead the City now wants to add another traffic signal?
Delays getting out of our neighborhood when going to work or school are bad enough; worse is how long it sometimes takes police and firefighters to reach our homes, since the Blue Line tracks separate our neighborhood from both the nearest police station and the closest fire house. Often, you can see emergency personnel just sitting in their vehicle waiting for trains to pass by.

Richard Gutmann
Long Beach

Letters to the Editor

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