Thursday afternoon, March 26, at 3:30 pm, I left my Emeritus class and drove from Arizona onto Ocean Avenue headed south. Construction had created gridlock. When at last I reached the next corner I turned left to try another route. But the cross streets were clogged by drivers who, like me, were trying to escape, as well as by more construction. On Second and Fourth Streets there was the same humongous blockage and it took me an hour just to get out of the downtown area.
The question that occurred to me was – why can’t construction be limited to one street in each direction at a time leaving the others free for traffic?
To get an answer I called the Department of Traffic Engineering and was very surprised to hear that they have no jurisdiction in such matters and that everything is decided by the Public Works Department. One problem is that when a construction permit is given out the recipient can choose any time during a period of two months to begin work, so in theory all permit holders might decide to start on the same day. The Department could change this rule and have control over specific dates but for some reason have not chosen to do so.
Susan Cline, the Acting Director of Public Works, spoke to me but did not give me an answer to my question. Neither the Planning Director, David Martin, nor his assistant, returned my call.
I feel strongly that the City Council should look into this situation to provide coordination and intelligent oversight on construction locations so that people will not be discouraged from coming to Santa Monica.