Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

DATE: JULY 1, 2003

SUBJECT: VIA RIVERA PILOT PROGRAM – FINAL REPORT

Staff Coordinator: Nicole Jules, Sr. Engineer

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. Receive and File Via Rivera Pilot Program Final Report.

  1. Approve the installation of speed humps along Via Rivera between Rue de la Pierre and Via Del Mar in accordance with the City’s Traffic Calming Program.
  2. Bring a project for the final engineering and construction back to the City Council when a funding source other than the general fund is identified.

BACKGROUND

At the January 7, 2003 City Council Meeting, Council approved and funded a three-month traffic calming pilot program as a means of reducing vehicle speeds on Via Rivera. This report presents the results of the pilot program, and recommends a long-term solution.

The Via Rivera Community traffic-calming project has an extensive history. The following is a chronological list of Via Rivera action:

  • On February 22, 1999, property owners along Via Rivera submitted a petition to the Department of Public Works requesting traffic investigation regarding traffic associated with the Point Vicente Elementary School.
  • In January 2001, a traffic engineering investigation concluded that the Via Rivera community is impacted by both volume and speed of traffic to and from the Point Vicente Elementary School.
  • On February 19, 2002, the City Council reviewed the recommendation for speed humps and approved the expenditure of $9,000 for a study of potential traffic calming measures other than speed humps.
  • On August 26, 2002, the Traffic Committee reviewed the various traffic calming measures and voted in favor of speed humps.
  • On September 17, 2002 the City Council considered the recommendation of the Traffic Committee and staff that speed humps should be constructed along Via Rivera. The City Council requested staff to explore the use of a camera system for speed enforcement. Staff was requested to investigate the viability and possible legal complications, practicability and cost of using cameras.
  • On December 3, 2002 staff reported to the City Council that due to limitations in the vehicle codes the use of camera enforcement of speed limits would not be practical. The City Council requested staff to increase enforcement of speeds along Via Rivera and to bring back to the City Council a pilot program of a speed trailer and increased enforcement in an attempt to reduce vehicle speeds.
  • On January 7, 2003 the City Council approved the expenditure of $17,500 on a pilot program of traffic calming along Via Rivera consisting of heightened random enforcement and the use of speed trailers.
  • On April 14, 2003 staff presented to the City Council an interim report on the progress of the Pilot Program.

DISCUSSION

The Via Rivera Traffic Calming Pilot Program was conducted over a three-month period to determine if a combination of speed trailers and intermittent police enforcement would be successful in reducing vehicle speeds along Via Rivera on a long-term basis. The program began on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 and concluded on Friday, May 2, 2003.

The first element of the pilot program was a pair of rented speed trailers, one for each direction of travel. They were placed on Via Rivera at strategic locations for high visibility to traveling motorists. The speed trailers operated 7AM and 5 PM, Monday through Friday.

The third element of the pilot program was increased enforcement by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The department deployed an officer for two hours daily to enforce the speed limit on Via Rivera. The officer’s enforcement time was selected at random and the enforcement location was not clearly visible to on-coming traffic so as not to influence driver behavior. When vehicles reached the point of enforcement, however, the Sheriff’s car was visible to motorists to let motorists know that there is heightened enforcement in the neighborhood. Table 1 summarizes traffic enforcement activities during the pilot program. In all, the Lomita Sheriff Deputies spent 118 hours and issued 71 citations of which 59 were for violation of the 25 mph speed limit on Via Rivera. The Lomita Sheriff’s Via Rivera Traffic Enforcement Reports are attached as Attachment "A".

TABLE 1 – CITATION SUMMARY

ENFORCEMENT WEEK

NUMBER OF CITATIONS

1 (01/21/03 – 01/24/03)

8

2 (01/27/03 – 01/31/03)

7

3 (02/03/03 – 02/07/03)

8

4 (02/10/03 – 02/14/03)

3

5 (02/17/03 – 02/21/03)

6

6 (02/24/03 – 02/28/03)

7

7 (03/03/03 – 03/07/03)

5

8 (03/10/03 – 03/14/03)

4

9 (03/17/03 – 03/21/03)

0

10 (03/24/03 – 03/28/03)

4

11 (04/21/03 – 04/25/03)

13

12 (04/28/03 – 05/02/03)

6

TOTAL CITATIONS

71

The third and final element of the pilot program was a device to measure vehicle speeds. This monitoring equipment, which was not readily visible to motorists, was deployed on a 24 hour/seven days a week basis, for four weeks during the pilot program and an additional two weeks after the program ended. Table 2 displays the days in which speed surveys were taken.

Table 2 - Via Rivera Speed Survey Summary

 

Date Conducted

Count Duration

Comments

1.

Feb. 10, 2003 to Feb. 14, 2003*

5 days

4th enforcement week

2.

March 3, 2003 to March 7, 2003

5 days

7th enforcement week

3.

March 17, 2003 to March 21, 2003

7 shortened to 5

9th enforcement week

4.

April 21, 2003 to April 7, 2003

7 days

11th enforcement week

5.

April 28, 2003 to May 2, 203

5 days

12th enforcement week

6.

May 5, 2003 to May 9, 2003

5 days

Trailers only

7.

May 26, 2003 to May 30, 2003

5 days

No trailers, no enforcement

*Data not used

May 2, 2003 concluded the enforcement element of the pilot program. During the following week speed trailers were deployed for an additional week without enforcement. Speed measurements were taken during this time to capture vehicle speeds without the presence of law enforcement. The last speed survey was taken during the week of May 26, 2003. This post-program count measured vehicle speeds without enforcement and without the speed trailers. Table 2 summarizes the speed data collection times.

As mentioned by the Lomita Sheriff’s Department in previous public forums, speeding violations are typically enforced when a driver exceeds the posted speed limit by at least 10 mph. On Via Rivera, citations were issued for vehicles traveling 35 mph or higher. For the purpose of this report and correlation with law enforcement statistics, an analysis of vehicles traveling over 35 mph is presented in Attachment "B".

Attachment B presents in tabular form the percentage of vehicles traveling 35 mph or greater. For any given day, the enforcement time blocks are highlighted and the corresponding number of citations issued on that day, are indicated at the bottom of the table.

Conclusions that can be drawn from Attachment B:

  • Vehicle speeds are generally lower during times of enforcement.
  • Vehicle speeds increase when enforcement stops.
  • The impact of enforcement is short term – This point is more subtle than the first two but perhaps more important. If one assumes that most motorists utilize a roadway at generally the same time each day, if there was a lasting impact of enforcement one would expect that enforcement during the 8am – 9am period on day one, would help reduce vehicle speeds during that same time period the very next day, however, a review of the data in Attachment B shows this to not be the case.

A more dramatic illustration of this is a comparison of vehicle speeds for the final three weeks of counts when enforcement was stopped but vehicles speeds measured.

Week of

Enforcement Present?

Radar Trailer Present?

Weekly average of vehicles exceeding 35mph

April 28, 2003

Yes

Yes

1.9 %

May 5, 2003

No

Yes

5.5 %

May 26, 2003

No

No

11.6 %

Attachment C is a graphical representation of Attachment B. Attachment C charts vehicle speeds during a twelve-hour day. Conclusions that can be drawn from Exhibit C are as follows:

  • Vehicle speeds are influenced by the presence of law enforcement. When enforcement is active, speeds are down, when enforcement is absent, speeds increase. During the Second Count (Enforcement Week #7) police enforcement occurred between 2:00 and 4:00pm on Monday, March 3, 2003. As seen on the chart, vehicle speeds increased dramatically after the 4:00 to 5:00pm hour. Similarly, this trend occurred every day that week.
  • During Enforcement Week #11, police enforcement expanded their enforcement hours to include the 5:00pm to 7:00pm time block. More citations were issued that week than any other week and yet, the percentage of vehicles traveling 35 mph or higher were higher this week than any previous week. The increased enforcement did not translate into lower vehicle speeds for times when there was no enforcement.

For discussion purposes, a comparison of the 85th percentile speeds during the pilot program is presented in Appendix D. The posted speed limit on Via Rivera and all residential streets is 25 mph. The 85th percentile speed is used when determining speed limits on streets other than residential street. As seen in Appendix D, during the pilot program period (March 3, through May 2, 2003), the 85th percentile speed was approximately 30 and 31 mph in each direction of travel. During the week of May 5, 2003, when the trailers were operating without enforcement, the 85th percentile speed increased, especially towards the end of the week. Finally, during the week of May 26, 2003, when the trailers and enforcement were absent, the 85th percentile speeds approached 35 mph which was the 85th percentile when vehicle speeds were first measured along Via Rivera approximately 18 months ago.

The cost of the pilot program is outlined below:

Table 3 - Pilot Program Final Cost Summary

Item

Cost

Dynamic Speed Display Boards
2 boards @ $1,200 each for 4 months

$9,600

Random Enforcement
120 hours @ $56.50/hour

$6,780

Data Collection & Analysis
Pneumatic tubes
Engineering Analysis

$2,850
$1,000

Total

$20,230

CONCLUSION

The Via Rivera Pilot Program has concluded that vehicle speeds can be reduced on very short-term basis through the use of speed trailers and increased enforcement. There is little carry over effect of enforcement.

Via Rivera needs a traffic calming solution to help reduce vehicle speeds on a more permanent basis. Staff and the Traffic Committee recommend the installation of speed humps for Via Rivera.

Speed Humps are being recommended based on their success in the upper Basswood Avenue community.

The before and after data for the Basswood Speed humps are as follows:

Table 4

Basswood Avenue Speed Profile Statistical Data

Speed Profile

Statistical Data

Description

Without

Humps

(Year 1999)

On

Humps

(Year 2000)

Between

Humps

(Year 2000)

On

Humps

(Year 2003)

Between

Humps

(Year 2003)

East of Manitowac

Percentage of Vehicles

over 40 MPH

7%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Percentage of Vehicles

over 35 MPH

20%

10%

14%

0%

0%

4%

Percentage of Vehicles

over 30 MPH

70%

29%

47%

0%

.8%

21%

Percentage of Vehicles

25-30 MPH

28%

33%

37%

0%

48%

43%

Percentage of Vehicles

under 25 MPH

2%

38%

16%

100%

52%

37%

Looking at Table 4, the percentage of vehicle traveling over 35 mph was reduced from 20% before the speed humps were constructed to 0% after the speed humps were reconstructed properly. Additionally, the percentage of vehicles traveling 30 mph or lower increased from 2% without the speed humps to 100% with the new speed humps. The speed humps have significantly reduced speeds. It is noted that the ‘before speed hump’ speeds on Basswood Avenue significantly greater than the current speeds along Via Rivera.

In accordance with the Traffic Calming Program the residents along Via Rivera circulated a petition in November 2001 to those property owners within the segment of Via Rivera where speed humps are proposed. The petition stated that speed humps are proposed but since a final design has not been prepared, it did not state exact locations of the speed humps. The petition was signed by 89 percent of property owners. A copy of the petition is attached.

During the course of the several Traffic Committee meetings, the City received written letters, e-mails and phone calls from individuals in opposition to the speed humps. Those in opposition state traffic delays, personal inconvenience, and damage to vehicles as the principal reasons for their opposition. Additionally, at the September 17, 2002 Council Meeting, a petition bearing 226 signatures against the installation of speed humps on Via Rivera was submitted. The petitioners against the installation of speed humps live in the Via Rivera neighborhood and use Via Rivera as their main access to and from Hawthorne Blvd but do not live within the block where speed humps are proposed. A copy of the petitions received is attached.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department has expressed concerns regarding speed humps. At the September 17, 2002 City Council meeting, Battalion Chief Steve Martin submitted the County of Los Angeles Fire Department’s Speed Hump Information Sheet and Speed Hump Policy. The Fire Department was notified of this proposal and is expected to attend the meeting. A copy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Speed Hump Information Sheet and Speed Hump Policy is attached.

When speed humps were proposed for Basswood Avenue, two letters, dated February 25, 1999 and April 6, 1999, respectively, were received from the County Fire Department. Both letters advise against the installation of speed humps. In a memorandum from the City Attorney’s office to the Traffic Committee, the City Attorney addresses the legal principal governing liability from the installation of speed humps. The memorandum indicates that additional emergency response time caused by the installation of speed humps, by itself, should not give rise to City liability. A copy of the City Attorney’s memorandum to the Traffic Committee is attached.

Staff recommends that the City Council approve a project to install speed humps along Via Rivera, however, it is also recommended that no action take place until a funding source other than the general plan is identified. The rationale is that projects such as this are typically funded with gas tax funds, but at this time the Gas Tax Fund has a zero fund balance. It is likely that once the current year closes there will be a positive balance in the gas tax fund and if this is the case staff will bring back to the City Council a plan on use of those funds with a prioritized list of eligible projects.

ALTERNATIVE

Alternative recommendations are:

  1. Approve the installation of speed humps; authorize engineering services in the amount a $7,000 to prepare the final plans and specifications. Bring a project for construction back to the City Council when a funding source other than the general fund is identified.
  2. Approve the installation of speed humps along Via Rivera between Rue de la Pierre and Via Del Mar in accordance with the City’s Traffic Calming Program.
  3. Authorize the expenditure of up to $45,000 for the final engineering and construction of speed humps, signs and pavement markings along Via Rivera.

    Adopt Resolution 2003- , A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes Amending Resolution 2003-42. The Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2003-04, for a budget adjustment to the City’s General Fund.

  4. Extend the pilot program to a permanent program by installing permanent speed display boards and implementing continuous random enforcement.
  5. Explore other traffic calming measures such as curb extensions, chokers or chicanes.
  6. Take no action

Alternative Actions One and Two approve the concept of speed humps. Alternative Action One authorizes the expenditure of $7,000 for the final engineering, and Alternative Action Two authorizes the expenditure of $ 45,000 for the engineering and construction of the speed humps. Staff recommends against these actions because adequate funding is not available in the gas tax fund for these expenditures.

Based on the just completed pilot program, Alternative Action Three will likely prove to be ineffective at reducing speeds on a long-term basis. The pilot program failed to create a lasting influence over driver behavior and the ongoing cost of increased enforcement is significant.

Alternative Action Four was presented to the City Council on September 17, 2002. Staff concluded that this recommendation would be more costly than speed humps, be less effective, and have greater negative impact on the community.

Table 5 compares the cost for alternate traffic calming options

Table 5 – Cost Comparison

Option

Speed Display Board with Enforcement

Speed Humps

Chokers or Chicanes

Effectiveness

Medium

High

High

Start up Cost

$16,000

$45,000

$60,000

Annual Cost

$13,800*

$500

$1000

*Cost based on 5 hours per week of enforcement versus 10 hours per week.

FISCAL IMPACT

Staff’s recommendation does not result in the expenditure of any funds.

The cost of a project for speed humps along Via Rivera is as follows:

Final Engineering

$ 7,000

Construction of speed humps

24,000

Installation of signs & pavement markings

11,000

Final engineering, inspection & administration

3,000

Total

$45,000

Respectfully Submitted,

___________________________
Dean E. Allison
Director of Public Works

Reviewed,

__________________________
Les Evans
City Manager

Attachments:

Attachment A – Lomita Sheriff’s Department Via Rivera Enforcement Reports
Attachment B – Speed Survey Summary Tables
Attachment C – Speed Survey Charts
Attachment D – 85th Percentile Data
Notification List
Notification Map
Resident Letter 6/19/2003 – Travis Shannon
Speed Hump Petition – November 2001
Opposition Petition – 9/17/2002
Los Angeles County Fire Department Speed Hump Information Sheet
Los Angeles County Fire Department Speed Hump Policy
March 10, 1999 memorandum from the City Attorney