By Steve Lopez : sftimes – excerpt
Alexander von Wechmar and Rob Ramsey, who live down the street from each other, have seen a lot of befuddled drivers negotiate their long-troubled intersection in the Hollywood Hills.
Canyon Drive and Bronson Avenue come together in an awkward union. It’s as if Bronson isn’t sure where it wants to go, so it forks into Canyon at two points, forming a large triangle in the middle and confusing many a driver…
Residents take on a dangerous intersection
After the motorist died, Von Wechmar and Ramsey stood at the intersection together one day and watched a driver spin around the circle like he was on a merry-go-round.
“Rob said, ‘This guy’s showing us what we need here,’ ” recalls Von Wechmar, who had just returned from Germany and saw firsthand the benefits of a well-planned traffic circle.
And so began, in the year of the Lord 2005, a 12-years-and-running battle with L.A. City Hall in an attempt to safeguard pedestrians and motorists alike with the installation of a simple circular median.
In those early days, Von Wechmar approached Tom LaBonge, the district’s city councilman at the time. Von Wechmar said LaBonge was receptive and consulted an engineer, then asked the city Department of Transportation to look into it.
“The city provided a technical drawing, a bird’s eye view,” says Von Wechmar, and a neighbor, artist Carolin Q. Wild, produced a lovely rendering of a landscaped traffic circle with a vintage street lamp in the middle of it.
But things grind along slowly at City Hall, and before long, residents were told the city did not have the money to install a traffic circle…
n mid-August, the city sent out a notice that it was repaving the street where the intersection sits. The notice advised that any street excavation will be prohibited for one year after the repaving, meaning the traffic circle project would be delayed, assuming it ever begins.
What’s all the more galling to Von Wechmar and Ramsey is that their street doesn’t really need repaving. But the city often gives priority to moderately worn streets because the horrible ones are too expensive to fix…
Ramsey, Von Wechmar and I watched as one car after another blew through a stop sign and whizzed past the spot where there might be a traffic circle one day, in a not-too-distant decade, but who’d put money on that?… (more)
Too much power and authority and money are bringing out the worst in transportation authorities, who are apparently trained to ignore public requests. Time to cut their power and funds in protest.