Los Angeles News

Lower speed limit considered for Arroyo Seco Parkway in Pasadena

Monday, August 06, 2012

It's one of the most hazardous freeways in Southern California: Should the speed limit be lowered to 45 mph on a stretch of the 110 Freeway south of Pasadena?

Commuters who roar through the twists and turns of the 110 Freeway could be facing a speed limit change, from 55 to 45 miles per hour.

That's the plan that Caltrans is proposing for a dangerous 8-mile stretch from Pasadena to the Interstate-5 interchange.

Last year, the stretch of the Pasadena Freeway between Glenarm Street in Pasadena to the 110-5 freeways split was renamed the Arroyo Seco Parkway, its original name.

Because the portion of the 110 is no longer classified as a freeway, Caltrans has the authority to lower the speed limit. The current speed limit is 55 miles per hour. Caltrans is looking into the possibility of lowering it to 45 miles per hour.

"I think it would be good," said Los Angeles resident Trayonna Rankins. "It would be a lot safer for everyone. That way we can kind of have less accidents."

The Arroyo Seco Parkway was the first freeway built in California. It opened in December 1940. The speed limit back then was 45 miles per hour, the speed the freeway was designed for.

According to Caltrans, just under 30,000 motorists per day drove the parkway between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles back in 1940. Today, just under 130,000 motorists drive through on a daily basis.

Timothy Brick is managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation, a nonprofit group that works to conserve the natural beauty of the canyon area along the 110. The foundation worked with Caltrans on the study looking at ways to make the parkway a safer drive.

"When it's rush hour and everybody's going a lot slower, if everybody would slow down a little bit, then the pace for everyone else would move faster," said Brick. "So it would really accelerate flow during rush hour."

"I think it would be safer," said Pasadena resident Roland Padilla. "Because you know, the faster you go, the more potential for pile-ups, especially on this particular freeway because the lanes are narrower, there's a lot of turns, and you have to come to a stop before you get on the freeway in Pasadena."

"They think that they can take a turn at 60 mph, and somebody else thinks they can take it at 45, then you can drive that speed," Palos Verdes resident Kerilyn Sato. "I think that each person just drives their own car and you just know how to handle it yourself."

Federal grants paid for a 20-year study looking into how to make the Parkway a safer drive. Lowering the speed limit, according to the Caltrans study, may be the best way to go.

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