The Monterey Road Reconfiguration Project was again a topic of discussion at last Wednesday’s City Council meeting, during which Public Works Commission Chair Larry Abelson delivered his body’s annual fiscal year report and former public works commissioner Ron Rosen called what he described as the City’s bolstering of a road diet consultant “another slap to the face of the PWC.”
“I’ve reviewed a proposal for Nelson Nygaard to do a Monterey Road traffic study in which it would either confirm or update the 2014 Mitigar report for $19,400,” said Rosen. “What a complete waste of money.”
Over two and a half years ago, the PWC looked at a road diet study by Mitigar & Associates and provided recommendations that were essentially against the study. Those recommendations never reached the Council. Frustration surrounding the Monterey Road project had been accumulating within the commission since then but had tempered in recent weeks after Public Works Director Paul Toor publicly acknowledged his department’s failure to bring the PWC’s report before the Council and assured the public that the “oversight” had been corrected.
The proposal Rosen referred to would reopen the discussion of the creation of an east to west bike lane on Monterey Road, something the Council was directed to assign the PWC to look into during Tuesday night’s Special Council meeting.
“Even if Nelson Nygaard takes our money again and tells us that a road diet is feasible,” Rosen continued, “it doesn’t change the fact that the public won’t stand for it. The road diet is controversial only in that there is passion on both sides of the issue. But there is not anywhere near a 50/50 split. It is time to end this road diet proposal once and for all. It has now become a cause celeb among a small group of citizens and has been a very divisive issue in the community for five years.”
Former South Pasadena Middle School Physical Education teacher Schlomo Nitzani followed Rosen at the podium next, and echoed Rosen’s sentiment that the City doesn’t “need a consultant to see that a road diet is not feasible.”
“How much money are we spending on consultants?” asked Nitzani. “What are these consultants doing?”
Abelson was not so fiery, but did share a couple of his commission’s frustrations. “Just so the Council is clear, our goal is to provide safety and efficiency on our local streets and to protect our residential streets from spillover traffic. One of the things I’d like the Council to keep in mind is that the projects the Council highlights occupy the Public Works Department staff to the point that projects the [PWC] believes are important are backlogged.”
Abelson listed the community garden, the dog park and the Arroyo Seco Bike and Pedestrian Trail as examples of major projects that delay PWC projects. “It’s very hard to get things going when staff is constantly working on these major projects,” he stated.
Abelson also suggested that the Council set aside budgeting dollars for helping neighborhoods deal with spillover traffic that results from congestion on major streets.
Abelson and commissioners Gayle Glauz, Kim Hughes, John Fisher, and Clint Granath were recognized with applause for their volunteer contributions to the PWC.
There was no Council Meeting Wednesday evening.