Rachel Reeves

Redondo Beach considers Harbor Drive / Herondo redesign plans

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page
Marina Vice President Sean Guthrie expresses concern over the proposed Harbor Drive redesign to the Harbor and Planning Commissions Thursday night. Photo by Rachel Reeves

Marina MCL Vice President Sean Guthrie expresses concern over the proposed Harbor Drive redesign to the Harbor and Planning Commissions Thursday night. Photo by Rachel Reeves

The City of Redondo Beach is planning major redesign of Hermosa Avenue, Harbor Drive, and Yacht Club Way, and residents are offering conflicting visions of what the end result should look like.

About 20 Redondo Beach residents turned out to a joint meeting of the Harbor and Planning Commissions Thursday night to discuss and offer their opinions on the proposed transformation.

The city contracted Stantec Consulting Services Inc. in October to prepare plans and specifications for the project, which has been called the Herondo Street/Harbor Drive Gateway Improvement Project. Since then, three consultation meetings have been held to invite public comment – on Dec. 19, Jan. 30, and Feb. 13.

At Thursday night’s  meeting Stantec’s Rock Miller and Public Works Director Mike Witzansky presented preliminary design concepts for the Planning and Harbor Commissions to review. The proposed changes will be rehashed at a meeting of the Public Works Commission next Thursday.

The project was accelerated by an arrangement with Chevron according to which the city agreed to facilitate the transportation of six coke drums from King Harbor to Chevron’s El Segundo refinery. In exchange, Chevron agreed to undertake restoration work along Herondo Street and Harbor Drive at the coke drum project’s conclusion in April. The City Council is expected to make a design decision regarding Harbor Drive and Herondo Street before that time.

The city is proposing a redesign of Herondo Street and North Harbor Drive, including the installation of new light poles, traffic signals, street furnishing, landscaping and signage. Another component of the project is a cycle track, which is intended to “remove potential conflicts between bicyclists, vehicles, and pedestrians at the north and south ends of North Harbor Drive, to connect bicyclists with commercial and recreational establishments in The Pier and Harbor areas, and to improve regional bicycle facility connectivity,” according to an administrative report prepared by city staff.

“The project consists of the design and construction of a separated, bi- directional, on- street bike path; a replacement of the signalized, dog- legged intersection at Yacht Club Way/Herondo Street with a roundabout; the removal of the wall in Parking Lot 13 that separates Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach; and, the elimination and replacement of some or all of the parking spaces in Lot 13 to allow for an improved bike path connection between the Hermosa Strand and the North Harbor Drive bike path,” reads the report.

The project is in line with the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan, Beach Cities Livability Plan, and coincides with the city’s successful grant application to the state, which resulted in over $500,000 for a cycle track project on North Harbor Drive.

Stantec’s Miller discussed three cycle track options for the commissioners to consider at Thursday’s meeting. Two involve a bi-directional cycle track on the same side of the street, and the third involves a one-way cycle track on either side of Harbor Drive.

Thursday, the commissioners approved option one and a modified option two – in the latter case, voicing support for the temporary implementation of the proposal. The commissioners made no decision on option three.

Below are the nuts and bolts of each option, and a breakdown of their advantages and limitations. There is also discussion of a roundabout, proposed for installation at the intersection of Yacht Club Way and Harbor Drive. This text is taken directly from the administrative report presented at Thursday’s meeting.

Option 1

Construct a connection between North Harbor Drive at Yacht Club Way and The Strand through Lot 13.

Implement a road diet on Herondo Street eliminating one vehicle travel lane in each direction to add bike lanes and head -out angle parking, capturing the displaced parking from Lot 13. One eastbound and one westbound vehicle travel lane in each direction would remain.

Benefits:

Removes the wall /barrier to entry that southbound bicyclists on The Strand encounter when entering the City of Redondo Beach.

Beautifies the entryway to the Cities of Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach.

Provides a smooth transition to North Harbor Drive in contrast to the right angle at the wall.

Provides a bicycle facility on Herondo Street.

Calms vehicle speed on Herondo Street for improved pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Allows for a phased implementation of the cycle track along Harbor Drive and would provide more time for additional traffic analysis and coordination with surrounding development activities.

Limitations:

Does not remove the conflict points at Yacht Club Way or at Pacific Avenue for northbound bicyclists as described in the project goals.

Does not eliminate traffic conflict created by the close proximity of the Herondo Street and Yacht Club Way signalized intersections.

Option 2

Construct Option 1 plus a bi- directional cycle.track on the west side of North Harbor Drive.

Benefits:

Same benefits as- described for Option 1.

Achieves the project’s goals of removing potential conflicts between bicyclists, vehicles, and pedestrians at the north and south ends of North Harbor Drive, connecting bicyclists with commercial and recreational establishments in The Pier and Harbor areas, and improving regional bicycle facility connectivity.

Limitations:

Requires additional analysis and data collection to resolve concerns involving how bicyclists will interact with vehicles entering and exiting the driveways along the west side of North Harbor Drive.

Could require cycle track modification depending on the outcome of surrounding development activities.

Does not eliminate traffic conflict created by the close proximity of the Herondo Street and Yacht Club Way signalized intersections.

Option 3

Construct Option 1 plus a one -way cycle track on each side of North Harbor Drive, and eliminate on- street parking for the length of the cycle track.

Benefits:

Same benefits as described in Option 1.

Addresses concerns raised at the stakeholder meetings of potential conflict between bi- directional bicycle traffic and vehicles entering and exiting the driveways along the west side of North Harbor Drive.

Replicates existing bike lanes and movements on North Harbor Drive.

Limitations:

Does not remove the conflict points at Yacht Club Way or at Pacific Avenue for northbound bicyclists as described in the project goals.

Could require cycle track modification depending on the outcome of surrounding development activities.

Does not eliminate traffic conflict created by the close proximity of the Herondo Street and Yacht Club Way signalized intersections.

Either eliminates parking along Harbor Drive, requiring additional replacement parking, or requires an additional eight feet (8) of right-of -way to construct the cycle tracks and maintain all existing uses on North Harbor Drive.

o Without acquisition of additional right away from adjacent private property owners, this option would require removal of the taxi zone in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Roundabout concept

As a possible future phase to the project, consideration is being given to a roundabout at North Harbor Drive and Herondo Street. A summary of the roundabout concept is provided below.

Replace the signalized intersections of North Harbor Drive at Herondo Street and at Yacht Club Way with a single roundabout.

Realign Yacht Club Way to become the west, or fourth, leg of the intersection.

Create a new intersection between the cycle track and Yacht Club Way within the Lot 13 perimeter.

Benefits:

Improves entry and exit to the cycle track and North Harbor Drive, Herondo Street, and Hermosa Avenue for recreational and commuter bicyclists.

Eliminates two closely spaced substandard signalized intersections whose close proximity (approximately 200 ft) contributes to area congestion.

Beautifies the entryway to the Harbor and Pier areas.

Limitations:

Data for future bicycle and vehicle traffic counts for 2030 buildout is limited.

As a result confirmation of operational improvements over the existing signalized intersections requires additional analysis.

Bicycle traffic information for peak summer season use is currently unavailable. Additional traffic count information is necessary to quantify potential congestion levels at a merged Herondo St, cycle track, and Yacht Club way intersection.

 

The third option, Miller said, has attracted a “considerable amount of interest.”

Miller noted his concerns about funding, as the city’s grant application was specifically for a two-way cycle track on one side of the street. If the proposal changes, the city has to approach the state for approval of a modified project description.

“When cities set out to do things and come back and say we can’t do it sometimes they’ll say, ‘Let’s give the money to a city that can,’” Miller said.

Locals voice concerns

Residents have expressed concern at all three meetings about safety, traffic disruptions, and the feasibility of installing a roundabout.

Some stakeholders, like MCL Marina Corporation Vice President Sean Guthrie, are concerned that the city and consulting firm have not undertaken a sufficiently rigorous traffic analysis of the street and the Strand during peak season.

Guthrie recommended the commissions “extend the planning process to obtain additional traffic counts and parking data for peak summer days.”

He called the proposed realignment of Yacht Club Way “extremely dangerous” and said it will create a “traffic problem” for the proposed roundabout.

He showed several images of concepts he has designed.

“We’re still hopeful that some alternatives which may include our concepts will be discussed,” he told Easy Reader.

In his capacity as a spokesperson for Crystal Cove Leasehold, Martin Ginsburg said at Thursday’s meeting that he has undertaken his own personal traffic count, the results of which contradict the city’s estimation that 240 bicycles per hour, or four a minute, cross Yacht Club Way.

“The whole concept is based on a November count,” he said. “…I have personally done a bike count on the strand, on June 10, 2009 [and for] bikes heading in the south direction I counted 16 a minute. That’s 960 an hour and well exceeding the capacity of the roundabout.”

He raised concerns about a proposed removal of the signal at Yacht Club Way, which will allow for minimal breaks in bike traffic, rending Chart House patrons and Crystal Cove residents “virtual hostages.”

“The value of the leasehold will go down when word is out you cannot easily get in from 10 to 5 during the summer months,” he said.

Several residents spoke to the benefits of a two-way cycle track on one side of the street.

Blue Zones community leader Erika Graves said a two-way cycle track built in Long Beach has “decreased [bicycle] accidents by 80 percent” and vehicle accidents on the adjacent street by 50 percent due to its “calming effect on vehicle speeds.”

She voiced her support for option two and a cycle track on the west side of the street, which she said will make Herondo Street and Harbor Drive “safer, more comfortable, and more accessible for all pedestrians, cyclists, residents, and visitors to the area.”

A South Bay Bicycle Coalition spokesperson voiced the organization’s support for the bi-directional cycle track on the west side of Harbor Drive, and for the proposed modifications to Herondo and the roundabout outlined in option two.

Mark Hansen of the King Harbor Boater’s Advisory Panel raised concerns about the realignment of Yacht Club Way and the proposed roundabout, which would have to accommodate vehicles towing boats on trailers.

He suggested putting the roundabout idea “on hold.”

Local Trinity Singer called the roundabout idea “a recipe for disaster.” She also proposed eliminating Parking Lot 13 and building in its place a park or “a place that says hello and welcome to Redondo Beach.”

Dean Francois, who has been a vocal advocate of connecting the Hermosa and Redondo Beach bike paths, is firm supporter of option three and has gathered nearly 1,000 signatures from people who support his position.

He pointed out that by separating the track, westbound cyclists heading down Beryl will be able to continue, uninterrupted, right along Harbor Drive. He believes a two-way cycle track on one side of the street imposes an “artificial sense of security” and subjects users to “long red lights and complicated intersections and congestion.”

“It’s not an easy fix,” he told Easy Reader. “They’re trying to make it look like it’s an easy fix.”

Francois believes option two is “out of sync” with what strand users want, and regrets that Planning and Harbor Commissioners did not have more time to study each proposal before Thursday’s meeting.

“If you study these in great detail you realize the third option is best,” he said.

Preliminary design concepts will be presented to the City Council in mid-April.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...