54th Place intersection

The corner of Ocean Boulevard and 54th Street currently has bollards in place, limiting traffic to one lane.

Rumblings of discontent have been increasing about street diet projects eliminating car lanes and adding bike lanes, primarily in east and south Long Beach. But the latest flap is about one corner on one intersection 54th Place and Ocean Boulevard.

54th Place is where Ocean Boulevard exits the Peninsula neighborhood — the only way off the peninsula. Over the last two years, Ocean has been treated to reduce lanes from two in each direction to one.

Then earlier this spring, a rebuild of the Leeway Sailing Center near the intersection was completed, and the city repaved the parking lot there, adjacent to Ocean. While that work was being done, the northeast corner of the intersection was blocked off with bollards — the short posts now being used to separate bike lanes all over the city.

Peninsula resident Rebecca Snellen said when she first saw the work on the corner, she thought a much needed right turn lane was being added. But a worker surveying the site told her a concrete pedestrian island was being added so there would be no right turn onto 54th Place.

"There is no logical reason for us to be sitting in traffic to get off the Peninsula one minute after we leave our homes," Snellen wrote in a Facebook post. "Summer is here and the back up will be long. The city claims to be green yet we sit idle in our cars more than ever now emitting carbons into the air."

According to Alvin Papa of the city's Engineering Bureau in Public Works, cars still will be able to turn right onto 54th Place, but no dedicated right turn lane is being contemplated.

The area can be very congested in the summer with beach goers and the daytime closure of Bay Shore Avenue to Second Street. 54th Place is a short road that connects to Bay Shore. Claremont Avenue, the next through street to the north, also is blocked to drivers traveling east on Ocean Boulevard.

After calls to her office, Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price has asked the Public Works Department to stop work at the intersection until a meeting with residents can be arranged.

"I am working with the Director of Public Works to address this issue and to set up a time to talk to residents about this," Price wrote Friday in a Facebook post. "I am very much in favor of adding a right turn lane at 54th to help move traffic through this area efficiently…

"I want to assure residents that this is something that I am working to make sure resident concerns are heard on. There have been a number of changes made to this roadway recently, so it is a priority to make sure we are paying close attention to how these changes are affecting traffic daily."

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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