Lack of funding, regional project prioritization and changes in state and federal participation have canceled one Marina del Rey project and greatly reduced another that was proposed to improve traffic flow and congestion.

A second public scoping meeting in preparation for an environmental impact report (EIR) for the Admiralty Way/Via Marina Intersection Improvement Project was held Saturday, September 26th at the Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Library. The meeting facilitator was EIR consultant Bill Graham of AECOM.

Barry Kurtz of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and Dale Sakamoto and John Burton from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works were in attendance to answer questions about the project.

The proposed 2006 State Route 90 Extension Project, which would have extended the Marina Freeway across Lincoln Boulevard to provide a direct connection to Admiralty Way, has been canceled.

In addition, the Admiralty Way Improvement Project, which shared a joint EIR with the SR-90 project, has been drastically downsized.

The resulting project, the Admiralty Way/Via Marina Intersection Improvement Project, is now limited to improvements at the intersection of Admiralty Way and Via Marina, modifying less than one-half mile of the roadway.

Opponents of the project said that any reconfiguration of the Admiralty Way/Via Marina intersection was not required. Speakers questioned how changes could be made at this intersection for traffic mitigation purposes when a number of new development projects are being planned, and as yet have no EIR to determine the traffic impact on this and other Marina roadways.

The original Admiralty Way Improvement Project was projected to improve traffic flow within the Marina del Rey area and also improve bicycle and pedestrian access.

The project would have altered the entire length of Admiralty Way between Fiji Way and Via Marina including modifying the raised median, restriping, widening, creating a triple left-turn configuration at the Via Marina intersection, and/or creating a continuous loop alignment at the Via Marina/Admiralty Way intersection. These proposed improvements were being considered as stand-alone options.

The following project descriptions are from county documentation.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION —

The project proposes to improve traffic flow by either adding a third left-turn lane from Admiralty Way to Via Marina at the existing intersection or by reconfiguring the existing “T” junction of the Admiralty Way and Via Marina intersection to create a continuous loop around Marina del Rey.

The continuous loop alternative would involve the realignment of Admiralty Way away from the existing “T” intersection with Via Marina into a southward curving intersection. This curved alignment would conform to the Mothers (Marina) Beach shoreline alignment and provide a roadway loop around the Marina.

Admiralty Way is striped for two travel lanes in each direction, with left-turn pockets at all signalized intersections.

The proposed scope of work involves new roadway construction; reconstruction and improvements to the existing roadway including curb, gutter, sidewalk, curb ramps and driveway aprons; drainage facilities; retaining walls; signing and striping; street lighting; and traffic signals at the Admiralty Way/Via Marina intersection.

Based on the resource characteristics of the project area, potential significant environmental factors to be addressed in the EIR include aesthetics, noise, cultural resources, water, traffic and public parkland impacts.

PUBLIC COMMENT—

Members of the audience voiced concerns over a number of issues.

Some speakers who objected to taxpayer money paying for this project said they were surprised to hear that this project is being funded by developer’s mitigation fees paid to the county.

Kurtz told the audience that developers would like to pay nothing, but in 1996 when the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program (LCP) was certified, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) stipulated that developers had to do something, and the county forced them to provide mitigation fees related to the commission proposals.

Other public comments included:

— there is nothing in this project to address the needs of pedestrians and bike riders, only vehicles;

— Public Works failed to provide traffic count information that had been asked for at the first scoping meeting on September 15th;

— Marina City Club residents will be negatively affected by the continuous loop alternative;

— the project should make changes on Washington Boulevard instead;

— the scope of the project goes all the way to Palawan Way and includes new roadway construction, not just realignment;

— public has not been properly informed that the county wants to widen the first section of Admiralty Way for development purposes;

— project needs to be retitled and re-noticed to give the community an opportunity to comment on its wide scope;

— project doesn’t improve pedestrian access to coast as claimed because crosswalks by Marina del Rey Marriott Hotel would force guests to walk all the way around to get to the beach;

— poor pedestrian planning but good for vehicles;

— the project can’t be planned without knowing which developments will be approved;

— one lane coming to Washington Boulevard (continuous loop) would back up Admiralty Way traffic;

— traffic count numbers from various project EIRs are not in agreement, leading to errors;

— increasing traffic by a lane in one direction, then bringing it back to fewer lanes causes a “chokepoint”;

— oil leaks on Admiralty Way weakened the road and a study should be done to determine if increased traffic is sound;

— more safe bike paths are needed;

— boaters’ ability to get to their boats on Admiralty Way will be inhibited, causing confusion;

— will Marina Waterline Replacement Project and the proposed City of Los Angeles Venice Pumping Plant Dual Force Main Project be coordinated by the county with this project to avoid long-term problems for commuters?;

—piece-meal developments are adding to traffic problems;

— continuing loop alternative improves movement between Admiralty Way and Via Marina but traffic entering Marina is made more difficult;

— traffic light at Palawan Way needs to be reconfigured to avoid back-up;

—water circulation should be considered; and

— concerns of increased speeds on Admiralty Way and Via Marina, which are meant to be scenic, calm roadways.

Asked who is doing the traffic counts, Kurtz said that the Department of Public Works would be conducting the study, analyzing numbers of vehicles, times of day, and the current and future conditions anticipated.

Graham said traffic count information is available on the Public Works Web site.

Part of the EIR includes a traffic circulation study, and part of that study includes volume patterns, origin and destination, and current and future traffic projections, he said. The traffic engineer then makes calculations based on those numbers.

He said that once the study has been done, it may turn out that this design is not acceptable for that intersection.

Asked how the community can be assured that the EIR is not biased toward developers, Graham said there is always the requirement for a “do nothing” alternative for every project, and that as an environmental consultant, the success of his business and reputation depends on a qualified, unbiased study.

One speaker told Kurtz that Beaches and Harbors should be the lead agency since it is located in the Marina. Kurtz said that the jurisdiction that owns the road sets schedules, hires and performs the work, and that Beaches and Harbors has no jurisdiction on the matter.

Another speaker said the proposed Waterfront project at Parcel 33/NR, formerly Harbor House/Edie’s Diner, would also exacerbate traffic congestion with a large mixed-use project at Admiralty Way and Palawan Way, and asked why the intersection work would be done without traffic information on the project.

A woman at the meeting said that in the 1996 certified LCP, a 1994 traffic study by DKS showed an F level of Service rating for Admiralty Way/Via Marina, which underwent a change in another project’s EIR and that the Del Rey Shores project Level of Service showed a C rating. She said that information could have been divulged to the public since the county figured out how much the traffic trips cost.

Kurtz said that in 1996, the Coastal Commission needed to know how much to charge developers, and that the triple left-turn and continuous loop aspects were “ballpark” figures then and those figures are now invalid. The projects were also different in their description and part of a larger process.

The woman asked why the county seems to be adamant about following the LCP for this and not other requirements.

“This is part of a larger plan such as parks, bike paths and recreational amenities. Why not make a bike route?” she asked.

Kurtz said LCP requirements fall into categories, with one addressing all roadway improvements and another for public uses.

Kurtz said that a number of programs have been instituted to improve pedestrian and bike riders’ usage of the Marina, such as widening Fiji Way by two feet for the bike path, widening sidewalks from five to eight feet, a water taxi, which they want all year through, and the shuttle program partnered by the county and Playa Vista, also planned to run all year long.

Graham said the scope of services of the EIR would look at improvements for pedestrians and non-motorized transport after a speaker claimed they had violated the California Coastal Act.

A speaker mentioned that Admiralty Way is not strong enough for heavy trucks and this issue should have been looked at before planning large hotels that will require service trucks to come in on Admiralty Way.

Kurtz said that in front of the Marina City Club, the pavement on Admiralty Way was “undulating” two years ago, and repairs had to continue to be made. There are plans to fix it permanently with a new material that will keep the roadway from sinking.

One other speaker said that the public needs to be notified on all projects, including development and Public Works projects. Outreach has been done project by project, and the public needs the information on a cumulative basis, she said.

The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, as the lead agency, will prepare the EIR. The public comment and review period ends on Monday, October 5th.

Scoping comments on the EIR should be sent to the attention of Dale Sakamoto, environmental manager, County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works, Programs Development Division, 900 S. Fremont Ave., Alhambra, CA 91803-1331.

(626) 458-3915, e-mail dsakamoto@dpw.lacounty.gov/.

Information on traffic counts,

http://dpw.lacounty.gov/tnl/trafficCounts/.

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