Discussion includes traffic near Santa Fe, the hazard of the bioswales and upcoming civic events
By Susan Motander
Last week the Monrovia City Council met again with the Monrovia Unified School District Board of Trustees. The two governing boards discussed several topics of mutual interest including the upcoming Holiday Parade, plans for Monrovia Day next May and the potential of moving the annual Fourth of July fireworks display from Library Park to the High School. The largest single portion of the discussions last Wednesday was a review of the traffic signal sequencing near Santa Fe Middle School.
Prior to the meeting, the Monrovia’s Traffic Engineer and Consultant Pat Gibson warned, “You will learn more about signal sequencing tonight then you ever wanted to know.” He was right.
For more than an hour Gibson detailed how traffic signals are set up in general and specifically at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Duarte Road. The opening of the Gold Line in March of this year resulted in traffic jams in front of Santa Fe Middle School. At an early joint meeting of the council and school board, this issue was raised and as a result, adjustments were made to the sequencing.
Gibbons explained that while the city, working with the Gold Line had been able to readjust the signals to prevent the traffic congestion that had earlier plagued the school especially during peak hours of Gold Line use while students were being dropped off for school, School Board Clerk Terrence Williams complained repeatedly that the northbound traffic on Myrtle Avenue often had to wait through several series to be given the right of way. Gibbons explained that this was due to the periodic crossing of two trains moving in opposite directions coming to the station in rapid succession. While Gibbons maintained the delays were no more than four to five minutes, Williams complained that the delays were “15 minutes or more.”
Gibbons pointed out that the Public Utilities Commission ordered certain sequencing, specifically that the traffic southbound on Myrtle be given an immediate priority whenever a train was nearing the station as this “cleared the tracks” of cars.
The one area in which the two bodies took action was in deciding how to best remedy the problems created by the installation of several bioswales in front of Santa Fe Middle School. At one of their earlier joint sessions there was a discussion of the safety of the rainwater settling bins in front of the school. The complaints ranged from the bioswales turning into virtual koi ponds when it rained to the tripping hazard the raised curbs around the bed created.
Tina Cherry, Director of Public Services for the city, outlined several potential plans for dealing with the problem. After reviewing the possibility of removing the raised curbs, covering the area with grates, putting in hand rails or planting hedges in the biospheres, it was decided to plant hedges.
Cherry also outlined the plans for the Holiday Parade, Monrovia Day festivities and the Fourth of July event. The largest portion of that time was spent on the last suggestion, that the Fireworks display, currently held at Library Park, be moved to the high school. With picnicking being held on the football field.
School Board Vice President Brian Wong pointed out that the field was not conducing to picnics as heels, and lawn chairs could not be permitted on the turf. Rob Hammond pointed out that by moving out of the Downtown, the merchants might be negatively impacted. “We should never do anything to harm downtown,” he said.
Council Member Becky Shevlin asked if MOTAB had been advised of the suggestion. Cherry explained that it would be discussed with the Merchants group at their next meeting. Several suggestions were also made regarding the possibility of setting up bleachers in the student parking lot at the high school and using the practice field for picnicking rather that the football field.
The issue of moving the fireworks display will be discussed again at the next joint meeting which is tentatively scheduled for mid-January.