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Spring Street Traffic & Safety Measures

Proposed Plan & FAQ'sSS_LB

What segment of roadway and what is the goal?

  • Affected Street segment: Spring Street from East of Studebaker Road to the Long Beach/Los Alamitos border. No other changes are under consideration. See the latest June 9, 2021 presentation for details.
  • Primary Goals: 1) To reduce instances of excessive speeding and to minimize the risk of crashes resulting in severe injury or fatality – currently, more than 50% of drivers exceed the speed limit by more than 5 mph; and 2) To improve the safety and efficiency of the El Dorado Park entrance/exit.

What initiated the redesign?

  • A proactive review of collisions on all major roadways throughout the City revealed a collision rate on Spring Street that is higher than rates on roadways with similar characteristics. Spring Street is one of only five (5) streets under Long Beach’s jurisdiction with a posted speed limit of 45 mph or higher. 
  • A total of 5 fatal collisions occurred on Spring Street East of Studebaker Road since 2012.
  • Various community outreach events were conducted by Council District 5 and Public Works to collect feedback of  neighboring residents in the area, including:
    • June 2021– District 5 Office Traffic Safety Forum
    • April 2021 – Ranchos Neighborhood Group Meeting
    • April 2018 – Carver Pride Newsletter Article
    • March 2018 – Millikan High School PTA Meeting; Spring & Clark Sunday Farmers Market Pop-up
    • April 2017 – Beach Streets University Pop-up
    • 2015-2017 – Several other Traffic Safety Community Meetings held throughout District in adjacent neighborhoods.
    • Following September 2014 fatal collision – Several Traffic Safety Community Meetings held at The Eldo Bar & Grill.

Are there drafted plans in place for this project? 

  • Yes, two proposed plans are currently drafted for public and Caltrans consideration:
    • The first plan is the proposal most preferred by our City's Public Works, Traffic Engineering team to best address incidents of fatality and severe crashes, which includes the closure of the "free right" southbound I-605 offramp.
    • The second plan includes an option to keep the free right open (sheet 4); However vehicles exiting the freeway would be required to yield to cyclist as well as in the #2 lane.
  • Key elements of the plans include:
    • Lane reductions and installation of a new protected bikeway that connects with current bike infastructure:
    • Installation of 6 inch concrete curbs (instead of bike bollards) with reflective paint and ceramic pavement reflectors (e.g. "botts dots") for high visability
    • Possible closure of the "free right" southbound off ramp, which would require vehicles exiting the freeway to either stop at the light or make a right turn at the signalized intersection (pending direct approval of Caltrans)
    • Restriping and repainting of pavement markings, limit lines, and crosswalks
    • Installation of signage

What are the next steps? 

  • Following the latest Spring Street Traffic Safety Forum held on June 9, 2021, our Public Works Traffic Engineering team will be:
    • Exploring additional lane options for Westbound traffic entering El Dorado Park (e.g., options for a dedicated right turn lane or lane buffer).
    • Working with Caltrans to determine design options for the I-605 off ramps. This would include exploring the feasibility of the Caltrans "Tee it up" design principle where the off ramp is standardized to a 90-degree angle in order to require motorists to make a slower turn when exiting the freeway, therefore reducing the number of drivers that maintain freeway speeds as they enter Spring Street.
    • Developing traffic simulations that show traffic impacts in real time for any proposed scenario. This will help to further determine the best options with the least amount of impact for responsible drivers. The current option provided will result in 0 to 1 minutes of impact per driver per trip.
  • Our office will work with the Traffic Engineering team to host another community forum to discuss the proposed project once Caltrans has approved concepts and the next phase of plan proposals are completed. We will be sure to keep you updated as things progress.

What is needed in order for the project to move forward?

  • Community outreach & public support: Even though prior public input was collected, we are not done! 
  • Approval by Caltrans: Due to the proposed changes to the southbound "free-right" offramp, Caltrans will need to review and approve any proposed plans. Additionally, all proposed traffic calming measures would need to meet current state standards established in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (a 1,400+ page document). For more information, visit https://dot.ca.gov/.
  • Approval by the City of Los Alamitos: Due to the final 750' segment of the project that crosses their jurisdiction to connect the Coyote Creek Bikeway, they would need to review and approve the proposed plans. 

Who is conducting the work and when would construction start?

  • The work would be conducted by an on-call contractor coordinated by Public Works. A notice to proceed for those contractors would be issued only after:
    • All aspects of the project are approved (pending);
    • An estimate for the work is provided (1-2 weeks); and 
    • The crews are scheduled (1-2 weeks).

Cost & funding sources:

  • The estimated cost of the 1.4 mile project is $335,000.
  • Public Works has annual Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding available and specifically earmarked for Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation (300314000) projects that refresh, repair, and reconfigure traffic marking and signs, like this one. Please see the latest 2021 Fiscal Year Adopted CIP Budget Book for further details on all current Citywide CIP funding allocations. 
  • The Traffic Calming Option currently proposed utilizes standard paint, signage and curb materials and can be delivered with existing funds within Public Works' Signing and Striping program. That program typically draws funding from gas tax.

Potential impacts from safety improvements:

  • How will we determine the impacts to the neighboring streets? Won't this just encourage drivers to cut through residential roads to get through signange?
    • The two signalized intersections within the proposed options scope are not situated in areas which afford opportunities for drivers to "cut through." The signalized I-605 ramp intersection does not include a cross street. The only outlet from the signal at the El Dorado Park entrance is through the park, under a bridge, and on the north side of Wardlow Road. Cut-through traffic bypassing the Studebaker signal via the Spring frontage road and Pavo Street is not expected, as left turns from Pavo to Studebaker are prohibited. If illegal turns from that intersection becom nuisance, Public Works can address them with simple modifications. 
  • How will the bike traffic be controlled at the intersections and the entrances to the residential areas?
    • Bicyclists are required to follow the same traffic controls as motorist. Traffic controls on Spring Street at Studebaker Road, El Dorado Park, I-605, and Claremore Avenue will remain signalized and no changes are proposed for the stop signs at Karen Avenue and the El Dorado Lakes community. 
  • How will the weekend back-ups near the entrances of El Dorado Park and The Nature Center be addressed if the third lane is removed?
    • The City is exploring options to reconfigure the El Dorado Park entrances to better accommodate peak demand for vehicle access. 

Speeding concerns:

  • Why don't we just lower the speed limit in the area if speeding is the problem?
    • In order to prevent local jurisdictions from establishing "speed traps," California law anchors speed limits to exisiting traffic speeds. Cities must influence speeds through other means before they can adjust posted speed limits.
  • How many of the five accidents cited involved human error other than, or in addition to, speeding?
    • Vehicle crashes are always the result of multiple factors, and almost always include an element of human error. While human error is an inherent factor in roadway safety, other variables like speeding can be reduced with proactive measures like the options proposed. The City acknowledges that human error is not something that can be eliminated with enforcement or design, so measures to reduce the severity of a crash when an error occurs are essential to reduce the risk of severe or fatal injuries on our roadway network.

Is there an opportunity to:

  • Include a crosswalk and traffic light at Karen Avenue connected to El Dorado Park as part of the proposed plan?
    • If the Traffic Calming Option is implemented, Public Works will commit to evaluating the new traffic conditions at Karen Avenue to determine whether those conditions meet State warrants for a traffic signal or crosswalk beacon. 
  • Create parking as a buffer between bikers and pedestrians along El Dorado Park?
    • Long Beach does use parking to create buffers between vehicle lanes and bike lanes. In the case of Spring Street, including a new parking lane next to the proposed bikeway would require a reduction to one travel lane in each direction and an unacceptable impact to roadway capacity. 
  • Extend and/or widen the sidewalks on Spring Street so that there is a safer walking path going into the park?
    • Sidewalk widening can be considered, and would require a seperate project with more significant funding and design work coordinated by public Works and the Parks Department.
  • Add street lights into the project so that night time visibility can be improved for pedestrians and bicyclist?
    • New lighting requires a photometric and spacing evaluation should be done and then a design including related pull boxes, conduits, wiring, and power source(s) like we would on a complete street project.
  • Improve the median on the Spring Street frontage road (from Stevely to The Eldo) as part of this proposed capital improvement?
    • The proposed Traffic Calming Option is intended to be a safety improvement that can be installed quickly and uses materials that can be placed on top of existing pavement, requiring no excavation or new pavement. Improvements to the median would have less of an impact to roadway safety, would require a lengthy design process, a funding source other than the proposed Citywide Signing and Striping program, and would dramatically increase the cost of the project. Median upgrades are possible, but not within the proposed scope and timeline.