Slowing traffic down on Ocean Boulevard from Livingston Drive to Bayshore Avenue could have a great side benefit — more parking.
Commuters continue to use the four-lane street as an alternative to driving down Second Street in Belmont Shore, particularly when traveling east. That’s despite summer closure of Bayshore and restricting left turns through the neighborhood.
Four lanes — two in each direction — tend to signal faster speeds, as well, according to traffic engineer Paul Van Dyk. That proves problematic to pedestrians crossing Ocean Boulevard from the residential area to the beach.
Those issues prompted Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price to ask for a traffic study shortly after she was elected in 2014. That study was approved in December that year, and data collection took place in the spring and summer of 2015. The count was followed by a community meeting in August.
“The traffic isn’t going to go away,” Price said last week. “We just want to slow it down. What we need is a road diet.”
A similar approach has been used on Broadway east of Termino Avenue, Price said. There now is only one lane of traffic in each direction, with street painting adding turn lanes, bike lanes and a virtual median.
According to last year’s traffic counts, Ocean Boulevard carries about 7,000 vehicles a day. Four-lane arterial streets typically see 25,000 to 30,000 cars a day, Van Dyk said.
“When we talk about it, the most common concern is that we’re going to cause traffic congestion,” city traffic engineer Eric Widstrand said. “That’s what we want to do. It slows the traffic down.”
A community meeting earlier this month unveiled the proposed solution — reducing eastbound Ocean Boulevard to one lane by restriping and adding dedicated left turn lanes onto one-way streets. The bonus — 50 to 150 new diagonal parking spaces on the east side of Ocean.
About 50 parking spaces could be created between 39th Place and Bennett Avenue, Price said. Those spaces could serve the commercial area there, as well as nearby apartment buildings.
Another 100 spaces are being considered from just west of Granada Avenue to 54th Place, with appropriate gaps for parking lot entrances. Both have parallel parking now, but diagonal parking would add the 150 spaces.
“We had a community meeting last week, and the full stretch seems to be favored,” Price said. “That would be a 68% increase in parking there.”
There was some concern about cars backing out of parking spaces into traffic, but Van Dyk said there would be a 6-foot bicycle lane and a 5-foot buffer between parked cars and the traffic lane. Price said they still needed to get a price estimate, but since the only material cost is street paint, it shouldn’t be too expensive.
“We’ll get it lined up, then we’ll wait for fall before we do anything,” Price said. “I think we will likely do the road diet.”
All of the changes will be to the eastbound, or beachside, of Ocean Boulevard. The westbound street will remain two lanes.
A concurrent traffic study has taken place on the Peninsula, from 54th to 72nd Place. Recommendations also contemplate reducing lanes there, but nothing is planned at this time. Price said the Alamitos Beach Preservation Group, the residents’ association on the Peninsula, is almost evenly split over proposed changes.
Harry Saltzgaver can be reached at email@example.com.