By Dan DesRosiers
This past year, the City of Long Beach conducted a traffic study on Ximeno Ave, between Broadway and 2nd Street. The results of the study have concluded that an extraordinary volume of traffic flows down this residential street and is the root cause of many accidents and close calls at the intersection of Shaw and Ximeno. Many a resident and visitors to this area have experienced the challenges of navigating this blind intersection with the high volume of traffic, and in many cases, speeds well exceeding the posted 25 MPH speed limit, at all hours and days of the week. In addition to close calls and accidents at this intersection, many parked cars along Ximeno have also been damaged. Also, a home on the South West corner of Shaw and Ximeno has been crashed into 3 times in the last few years.
This corridor is used by many visitors to the area, as it is a desirable route to the Belmont Pier, Second Street, and other amenities in Belmont Shore and Belmont Heights. The desirability of the route will not change of course, and the City has looked at ways to mitigate the unsafe conditions for residents and visitors alike.
Two recommendations were proposed by the City of Long Beach Traffic Engineers to residents who would be most impacted by the potential noise increases in front of their homes. The recommendations and study results were shared by Carl Hickman and Elias Garcia at a community Zoom meeting hosted by 3rd District Councilwoman, Suzie Price, on Monday, November 30th.
During the meeting Mr. Hickman and Mr. Garcia reviewed the statistics from the study, indicating nearly 5,000 vehicles a day traversed Ximeno between Broadway and 2nd Street, crossing the Shaw Street intersection. The unprecedented volume was a surprise given that a residential street would typically see 1/10 or less of that traffic. Additionally, it was noted that this study was done during the Covid-19 stay safer at home orders, which one could conclude, was “lighter” than normal traffic patterns.
To address these unsafe conditions, the City recommended two options: 1) Traffic cushions, and/or 2) A traffic circle at Shaw and Ximeno. Both options have their pros and cons, not the least of which is cost. The traffic circles can cost $150,000 to $200,000 or more to construct, plus maintenance. Two traffic cushions would cost around $5000 and could be funded by Councilwoman Price’s discretionary budget.
Traffic cushions should not be confused with speed bumps, which are smaller in size and will force a car to slow down to about 5 miles per hour. A traffic cushion produces a wider, more modified hump to gently slow a car down to about 15 miles per hour.
After an informative and lively discussion, it was agreed that a 6-month pilot of 2 traffic cushions would make the most sense and would be something that could be done quickly and cause minimal disruptions while being installed. After the 6-month period, the City will compare the amount of close calls and accidents as well as traffic flow to determine if we have improved the safety of this corridor. The City would also consider constructing a traffic circle and start the process for planning and budgeting such an expense. The construction of a traffic circle would also be preceded by a pilot period, where temporary barriers are installed to simulate a traffic circle.
Here’s hoping that the traffic cushions have the desired effect of improving the safety of this popular corridor in Belmont Heights in 2021!