Peninsula traffic

This was the picture on Wednesday, July 10, at the Ocean Boulevard-54th Place intersection.

Six months of study has resulted in what traffic engineers — and Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price — say will be a solution to ongoing congestion at the Ocean Boulevard and 54th Place intersection.

Anyone entering or leaving the Peninsula area must go through that intersection. After the city reduced Ocean Boulevard from two lanes in each direction to one, cars began backing up there, particularly when leaving the Peninsula.

Price said in an email to constituents that she asked for a study of the issue and potential solutions. That study included traffic counts before and after the annual daytime closure of Bay Shore Avenue.

Results confirmed there was indeed a congestion problem. There was more outcry from residents when it appeared there were plans to take away a bike lane going west on Ocean that has been used as a de facto right turn lane coming out of the Peninsula.

In the email, Price announced a short-term fix to get through the rest of summer that is being implemented now. That includes a "better trained" crossing guard to better control pedestrian traffic to and from the ocean beach and the busy Bay Shore/Horny Corner recreation area. There will be some adjustment to cones and streetscape to allow right turns through the bike lane.

More significant is the promise of a reconstruction of westbound Ocean Boulevard through the intersection.

"In just about four weeks we will start construction on a long-term solution that will create an additional travel lane on westbound Ocean Boulevard at 54th Place to allow for through traffic OR right turns onto Bayshore (when it is open)," Price wrote. "Additionally, in order to improve safety and reduce the time it takes pedestrians to cross Ocean Boulevard, Public Works has proposed extending the curb at 54th to the end of the Leeway Sailing Center parking lot. This will shorten the amount of time drivers are waiting for pedestrians to cross the street and limit traffic delays."

Acting City Traffic Engineer Alvin Papa said that the two lanes will be on the westbound side of Ocean Boulevard, and stretch about 250 feet on both sides of the intersection. In other words, traffic leaving the Peninsula will split into two lanes approaching the intersection. People in the right lane can either go straight or turn right onto Bayshore. Two lanes on the other side of the intersection will accept the vehicles leaving the Peninsula, then funnel them into one lane to go further west.

Price said that the changes had been discussed extensively with neighborhood leaders, as were the changes in 2018 to reduce traffic lanes and add the bike lanes on the Peninsula. She also said those changes had successfully slowed traffic in the residential area. Communications will remain open and the new intersection plan will be monitored to see how successful it is in easing the congestion.

Her email concluded with, "we continue to work closely with the neighborhood association and our Traffic Engineers to make sure all further changes continue those safety improvements while taking into account the daily traffic and commuting needs of residents to have functional efficient traffic flow."

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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