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Author Topic: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.  (Read 3476 times)

ZLoth

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From SF Gate:

This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
Quote
Hope goes to die at the quasi-intersection of Los Angeles’ Fairfax Avenue, Olympic Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard, just a couple blocks south of the famous La Brea Tar Pits. The soul-sucking nature of the Fairfax/Olympic/San Vicente hellhole – termed the “asterisk”  by neighborhood organizations and “the butthole”  by my girlfriend – is notorious in the larger Los Angeles community. Last year, in a social media post Mindy Kaling deemed “boring,”  the actor asked her followers what the worst intersection in LA was. Kaling volunteered her pick: Fairfax/Olympic/San Vicente.

The trouble with this intersection is that it isn’t really an intersection. Unlike a typical six-way intersection, where coordinated signals allow drivers on each road to take their turn in an orderly fashion, San Vicente actually first crosses Fairfax and then crosses Olympic a few hundred feet later, meaning that drivers – if they’re lucky – must wait for not just one but two endless light cycles. The limited space to queue between these two crossings creates significant backups. During rush hour, a car may have to sit through an entire green light cycle without moving because there is no space to go. It is urban planning chaos.
FULL ARTICLE HERE

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Max Rockatansky

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2023, 09:09:43 AM »

Trouble fixing anything on Olympic is that it isn’t CA 26 (ii) anymore.  Without state money that corridor isn’t getting a big project.  The corridor of Olympic was interesting given it more or less started out with a similar building push to the likes of the Ramona Expressway.  The project became increasingly inadequate as it dragged on and was replaced by the Santa Monica Freeway.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2023, 10:57:20 AM »

What would any of you suggest to fix this intersection? It may be unfixable without significant property relocation.
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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2023, 11:02:50 AM »

Would timing the lights so that each road gets greens for both cross streets simultaneously help?
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webny99

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2023, 12:51:38 PM »

There's a somewhat similar configuration in Brighton, NY, at the intersection of Monroe Ave, Elmwood Ave, and Winton Rd. It's known locally as "Twelve Corners". Satellite view here. I'm not aware of any significant or recurring congestion problems at this junction. However, there are a few prohibited turn movements. (WB Monroe: no left turn on Winton. SB Winton: no left turn on Elmwood. EB Elmwood: no left turn on Monroe)

The main difference in the LA example is the extreme angle at which San Vicente crosses Olympic. Ideally, the mid-intersection markings would be removed, but that might be impractical because of the sheer size of the intersection.

Even so, I don't see why it creates such a bottleneck unless there's something else downstream that backs traffic up into the intersection. Is there a specific turn movement that causes issues?
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heynow415

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2023, 12:52:51 PM »

What would any of you suggest to fix this intersection? It may be unfixable without significant property relocation.

It wouldn't be cheap, but create a grade separation for San Vicente.  Since SV has four lanes in each direction and an extra wide median, take the two inside lanes in each direction and have them drop below grade under Fairfax and Olympic. The outer two lanes would still go through the intersection(s) as now to enable turning movements on to/off of SV, but at least one through traffic conflict would be removed from the equation.  A somewhat analagous situation exists for West MacArthur Boulevard where it goes under Peralta St and San Pablo Avenue in west Oakland:  https://www.google.com/maps/@37.8284132,-122.280096,204m/data=!3m1!1e3?entry=ttu
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2023, 01:30:15 PM »

I traveled through here every day. Most of the locals get it right it’s the tourist that fuck it up. Though I’m not mad at them for that I understand that some people simply just don’t realize how quick the intersection will back up.

I’m not sure what a timing of lights would do other than just shift the problem to somewhere else.

My ideal solution would be to remove street parking on Fairfax, and convert that to a travel lane. Construct parking garages to substitute for the removal of street parking. Remove the middle turn lane and restrict turns except at intersections. Then add a two-way cycling on one side and bus lanes on each side. Construct the small median to plant trees.

Yes, my plan would require acquisition of property, but no demolition other than trees. Plant new trees, and thank where, in the future, they would grow and become big again as they are now.

Of course, that will never happen.

Only other solution I could think directly addressing the intersection would be a massive roundabout, but we don’t seem to understand how to use those, and I’m not sure that would really fix any sort of congestion. My first proposal would alleviate, but not solve it and it would add extra forms of transportation as an alternative to cars.

So the best solution would be to leave it as it is, because if anything were to be done, it would simply be to remove parking lanes and convert them into bus lanes like LA loves to do.

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Mark68

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2023, 04:59:08 PM »

There's a somewhat similar configuration in Brighton, NY, at the intersection of Monroe Ave, Elmwood Ave, and Winton Rd. It's known locally as "Twelve Corners". Satellite view here. I'm not aware of any significant or recurring congestion problems at this junction. However, there are a few prohibited turn movements. (WB Monroe: no left turn on Winton. SB Winton: no left turn on Elmwood. EB Elmwood: no left turn on Monroe)

The main difference in the LA example is the extreme angle at which San Vicente crosses Olympic. Ideally, the mid-intersection markings would be removed, but that might be impractical because of the sheer size of the intersection.

Even so, I don't see why it creates such a bottleneck unless there's something else downstream that backs traffic up into the intersection. Is there a specific turn movement that causes issues?


It appears that there are arlready some prohibited turns at this mess. In looking at the GSV, it looks like left turns are prohibited from SB Fairfax to EB Olympic, NB Fairfax to WB San Vicente, WB San Vicente to SB Fairfax, left turns from Olympic to SV are prohibited (which makes sense for a 315-degree turn), and from EB SV to EB Olympic.
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mrsman

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2023, 05:52:49 PM »

A lot of good ideas already posted.  Good job guys.

Fairfax Ave widening.  Absolutely.  The whole street maintains two lanes of traffic in each direction, except between Olympic and Venice.  If this section were either widened or parking restrictions put in place to provide two lanes of traffic in each direction (ideally at all times, minimally at extended rush hours 7-9:30 and 3:30 - 7) it would do wonders for that street.

[The portion between Pico and Venice was actually widened about 35 years ago.  I remember the old configuration was similar to parallel streets like Orange Grove and Hayworth.  Because of the traffic volume parking on one side was prohibited at all times, so that they could comfortably fit one lane of traffic each way.  But it was very bad.  The widening to the current configuration is only slightly helpful, done to match the width of the Olympic-Pico section, which is how I remember it for most of my childhood.  Basically, the parkway (grass between sidewalk and curb) was removed to widen the street without the need for eminent domain.  Given the traffic, though, figuring out how to get two lanes in both directions would be critical.]

Grade separation of San Vicente here (and at La Brea Ave) would be very helpful.  [The intersection with La Brea isn't that bad, but the street has to go down a steep hill on both sides, so an actual bridge should be easier for traffic. In fact the old Pac Electric Ry crossed over on a bridge here for that reason, to avoid the steep hill.]

But if that is not feasible, than an actual plan that might work would be a street minimization of SV, the least traffic heavy of the three streets.  Widen the median and get rid of its traffic capacity between Wilshire and Venice.

This would require some extensive work to really make it work.

A left turn from Burton Way to Sherbourne should be implemented to help get some Burton Way traffic toward 3rd street in a better way.  The block of Sherbourne between Burton and 3rd should be one-way northbound.

Most of the continuing traffic should be encouraged to make a left on Wilshire*.  Of the three lanes eastbound, the left two should force a left on Wilshire, with only one lane of traffic continuing east of Wilshire.  That remaining one lane should be forced to make a right on Carrillo.  Likwise, in the westbound direction, SV is only one traffic lane between Carrillo and Wilshire (with some widening at the Wilshire corner to account for waiting at the signal).   SV will be one lane and one way WB between Fairfax and Carrillo.  Barrows would be one way eastbound.

SV is also one lane and one way WB between Olympic and Fairfax.  This segment of street will be forced to make a right at Fairfax with a stop sign.  This eliminates the signalized intersection of SV/Fairfax.

SV will be one lane in each direction between Olympic and Venice.  Westbound, all SV traffic is forced to make a right turn onto Genessee (which will be one way northbound) and can reach Olympic at the signal at Genessee.  (THis of course means that SV is one way EB between Olympic and Genessee.) These steps eliminate the signalized intersection of SV/Olympic.

When all is said and done.  We have a regular intesection of Olympic and Fairfax, that hopefully maximizes Fairfax's capacity as discussed in the first paragraph.  SV still exists, but east of Wilshire, while it is still very wide median, it will only carry one lane of traffic in each direction and will be broken in such a way that it does not cross Olympic/Faifax directly.  WB traffic on the single lane SV will make a right on Genessee, a left on Olympic, and a right on Carrillo, and a left on SV to continue in this manner.  EB traffic will make a right on Carrillo, left on Olympic, and then a right on SV (at Orange Grove) to continue.  But given that the traffic patterns are no longer as direct, a lot of SV's traffic will be distributed amongst other streets in the area and fewer will need to travel this route.  Other than SV, most large streets in the area form a grid, and most of the traffic will follow the gridded streets and no longer take advantage of the SV diagnoal, east of Wilshire.

NYC eliminated much of Broadway becuase of the traffic effect at the crossing of avenues.  Broadway's traffic simply was dispersed amongst other parallel streets.  The same can happen with the eastern section of SV.

The above will never happen.  The underpass is more feasible.

* Very similar idea of the other SV/Wilshire intersection in Brentwood.
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Rothman

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2023, 10:05:45 PM »

Trouble fixing anything on Olympic is that it isn’t CA 26 (ii) anymore.  Without state money that corridor isn’t getting a big project.  The corridor of Olympic was interesting given it more or less started out with a similar building push to the likes of the Ramona Expressway.  The project became increasingly inadequate as it dragged on and was replaced by the Santa Monica Freeway.

Depending on the functional class of the roads, it could be eligible for federal funding.
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Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

Algorithm

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2023, 03:10:43 PM »

Radical solution: Close through traffic on Fairfax.  Extend the San Vicente median completely through the Fairfax intersection, and enlarge the central island westward to only permit southeast-to-south turns.  This may require additional work to mitigate knock-on effects elsewhere (e.g. U-turns on San Vicente at Carmel and Genesee), but it will succeed in streamlining traffic where it's needed most.

edit: Making it even more radical by blocking off the SV/F intersection entirely
« Last Edit: September 23, 2023, 03:18:55 PM by Algorithm »
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mrsman

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2023, 08:30:27 AM »

Radical solution: Close through traffic on Fairfax.  Extend the San Vicente median completely through the Fairfax intersection, and enlarge the central island westward to only permit southeast-to-south turns.  This may require additional work to mitigate knock-on effects elsewhere (e.g. U-turns on San Vicente at Carmel and Genesee), but it will succeed in streamlining traffic where it's needed most.

edit: Making it even more radical by blocking off the SV/F intersection entirely

Even though radical, not a terrible idea.  If Fairfax were blocked and were converted to a J-turn or Michigan left type situation, it would probably be a lot easier to time the signals better to avoid some of the backups.

https://mobikefed.org/2022/05/modot-installing-j-turns-rural-intersections-no-provision-safe-bikeped-crossing

The first step is to coordinate the signals to keep Olympic's flow at the best.  Basically, both signals are green at the same time, but WB flow extended a little at the O/F signal and EB flow extended at the O/SV signal so that no traffic is trapped between the two signals.  Left turn arrows to avoid any yellow trap situation.

Now the J-turn.  So let's say that all or Fairfax coming from the north must turn right at SV.  Embellish the U-turn at Carmel to provide for this obvious traffic flow for all traffic headed for SB Fairfax, as well as any traffic that wants to go east on either SV or Olympic (and even some Olympic west traffic).  SV is wide, so if an extra lane is needed to accommodate the traffic backups, it can be taken from the median.  One nice benefit is that the traffic flow can now be minimized into one lane, which will help as Fairfax is only one lane to the south of Olympic.  (So if removing parking isnt feasible, you can have two lanes NB and one lane SB for the entire stretch of Fairfax between Venice and Olympic.)   

The right turn from SV to Fairfax SB is signalized and will only allow traffic during Fairfax SB's green time (in deference to Olympic's timing).  There still will need to be a signal at SV/F, but that signal can be coordinated to favor SV traffic, vis a vis the signal at SV/O, since Fairfax traffic is no longer thru.

NB Fairfax traffic will be forced to either make a left or a right turn at Olympic.  Traffic that wants to continue north must make a right on Olympic, a right on SV, and then a u-turn at Genessee to head back to Fairfax.

SV as a whole, other than the immediate area of this intersection, could easily be narrowed to two traffic lanes in each direction, based on volumes.  So this could provide a narrower SV that enters the fray, widening to the point to handle all of the necessary turns and the additional traffic.
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mrsman

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2023, 11:09:32 AM »

THere are other bad multi-way intersections in L.A.  But in some cases, enough minimization has been done to lessen impacts.

Lankershim/Colfax/Victory and Lankershim/Tujunga/Burbank could've been bad, but because L.A. has eliminated Colfax and Tujunga as thru streets, they function like normal intersections.  Traffic on NB Colfax uses Erewin to connect to Lankershim.  Traffic on NB Tujunga uses Cumpston and SB Tujunga uses Hattteras to connect to Lankershim.

Signs like this do exist at some places:

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.169735,-118.3790364,3a,17.3y,48.2h,89.91t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1stLFLGxrh7ylSsiBDx09R4Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

Minimization of both Camarillo/Lankershim/Vineland and Camarillo/Tujunga/Riverside would also be helpful.  In both cases, it is Camarillo traffic that should be redirected around the intersections, to the extent possible.  Thru traffic should use Riverside instead of Camarillo between Tujunga and Cauhenga.  I would think that guide signs around the intersection would be helpful, and yes one-way streets to lead traffic away from the intersection may also need to be employed.


Another disaster is of course, Sunset/Hollywood/Hillhurst/Virgil.  The Hollywood Blvd leg is what needs to be minimized here.

Beverly Hills has 3 6-point intersections near the Beverly Hills hotel.  These intersections move surprisingly well given the chaos.  Canon/Beverly/Lomitas badly needs a signal to direct the traffic flow better.

San Vicente/La Cienega/Burton Way also needs some help.



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bing101

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2023, 11:33:03 AM »

What if Caltrans Built the Beverly Hills Freeway how many cars would be reduced on some of the worst intersections in the LA Area. Or if one of the streets converted into a Metro Line or Metrolink line.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2023, 07:34:13 AM by bing101 »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2023, 11:56:18 AM »

The Beverley Hills Freeway didn’t stand a chance even before CEQA and NEPA.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2023, 03:06:13 AM »

Currently regarding automobile based infrastructure projects, LADOT is focusing on is the Hyperion Avenue bridge and Robertson Avenue/I 10/ overland Avenue roads and interchange, and the way they interact with the interstate.

Other than that, all of their other projects seem to be removing car lanes and trying to provide alternative transportation.
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AndyMax25

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Re: This may be California's worst intersection. There are no plans to fix it.
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2023, 11:45:40 PM »

I always felt a multi-lane roundabout would be perfect for this location.  The feeder roads would need to slightly re-aligned.  But it could work with minimal cost compared to other grade separated ideas.

Same goes for the Riverside/Tujunga/Camarillo intersection in the Valley.
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