Press Release: Irvine Transportation Commission Adopts Councilmember Melissa Fox’s Initiative for Comprehensive “Stop Sign Compliance Study” to Increase Safety of Irvine’s Streets

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Allison Binder 949-724-6226

IRVINE TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION ADOPTS COUNCILMEMBER MELISSA FOX’S INITIATIVE FOR COMPREHENSIVE “STOP SIGN COMPLIANCE STUDY” TO INCREASE SAFETY OF IRVINE’S STREETS

Irvine, CA – On December 4, 2018, the Irvine Transportation Commission unanimously adopted Councilmember Melissa Fox’s initiative for a comprehensive “Stop Sign Compliance Study” for the purpose of increasing the safety of Irvine streets.

Based on the motion of Councilmember Melissa Fox’s appointee, Commissioner Ken Montgomery, the Transportation Commission voted 5-0 to support Councilmember Fox’s request to direct the staff to conduct a comprehensive “Stop Sign Compliance Study.”

Several members of the public spoke at the meeting to support Councilmember Fox’s request for this intensive study. They spoke of accidents and near misses caused by people running stop signs. The individual Transportation Commissioners all had personal experiences with stop sign runners causing accidents and even fatalities in their neighborhoods.

Irvine Police Department (IPD) Officer Brian Smith told the Commission that IPD issued 2000 stop sign violation citations this year-to-date; there have been 139 vehicular collisions involving stop-sign noncompliance; five of these collisions have resulted in an injury; IPD conducts high-visibility enforcement in areas during rush hour; and that high-visibility enforcement can net 50-55 citations over a two hour morning rush period.

City staff was directed to study how extensive “rolling stops” are at stop signs in Irvine; how many accidents result from “failure to yield” violations at stop controlled intersections; determine whether electronic enhancements to stop signs, like flashing beacons, improves compliance; review the current and best thinking from the nation’s police, traffic engineers, and public safety professionals on increasing stop sign compliance and traffic safety; determine whether other cities are achieving better stop sign compliance and, if so, what are they doing differently from Irvine; and to work with the Irvine Police and Public Safety to determine whether the current strategies used for stop signs compliance are as effective as can be.

City staff will determine whether the study can be performed in-house or whether an outside consultant familiar with this type of work is needed to do the study.  When the study is completed, the Transportation Commission will develop recommendations for the City Council.

“Residents of Irvine are very concerned — and rightfully so — about their safety and the safety of their children because of the consistent failure of drivers to come to a full and complete stop at our stop signs,” Councilmember Fox said. “Irvine is world-famous as a safe place to live and raise our families. But it won’t stay that way unless Irvine’s motorists obey the stop signs and respect pedestrians’ right-of-way. It’s not just our reputation as America’s safest city that is on the line. Our lives, and the lives of our children, are at stake.”

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Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox Puts Stop Sign Safety on the Next Transportation Commission Agenda

Residents of Irvine are very concerned — and rightfully so — about their safety and the safety of their children because of the consistent failure of drivers to come to a full and complete stop at our stop signs. 

Many of you have expressed your concerns to me and I have read what you have posted on social media.

I share you concerns.

As I’ve said before, Irvine is world-famous as a safe place to live and raise our families. But it won’t stay that way unless all Irvine’s motorists obey the stop signs and respect pedestrians’ right-of-way.

It’s not just our reputation as America’s safest city that is on the line.  Our lives, and the lives of our children, are at stake.

In response to these concerns, my appointee to the Transportation Commission, Ken Montgomery, has placed the lack of compliance with stop signs in Irvine on the agenda of the next Transportation Commission meeting on Tuesday, December 4, 2018, at 5:30 PM at the Conference and Training Center Room, One Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, California 92606

Please attend!

Commissioner Montgomery has also asked that our Irvine Transportation Director Mark Linsenmayer and City staff be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How widespread is the problem of drivers not stopping at stop signs in Irvine?
  • Are there any visibility problems with our stop signs?
  • Would center-mounted stop signs help with compliance?
  • Would advanced warning stop signs help with compliance?
  • Would lights around stop signs, or flashing beacons, increase compliance and public safety?
  • Are other local cities seeing better stop sign compliance?  If so, what are they doing differently from Irvine?
  • What measures have the Irvine Police Department undertaken to increase stop sign compliance, and what recommendations does the Irvine Police Department have to increase stop sign compliance and better driver behavior?
  • What is the current and best thinking from the nation’s police, traffic engineers and public safety professionals on increasing stop sign compliance and traffic safety?

Of course, you may bring your own questions and suggestions for the Commissioners and City staff to the meeting.

You can also contact Transportation Commissioner Ken Montgomery with your concerns, questions, and suggestions.  Send him an email at kenmontgomery@cityofirvine.org.

Commissioner Ken MontgomeryTraffic is a retired Civil Engineer with more than 40 years of experience in managing public works and traffic and transportation issues as Director of Public Works for three Southern California Cities: Norwalk, Redondo Beach, and Laguna Niguel.  Ken retired from the City of Laguna Niguel in 2009 after 18 years as that City’s first Director of Public Works/City Engineer.  He holds a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Ken and his wife Judy have resided in Irvine for 39 years and have lived in the same Woodbridge home since 1980.  He been closely following transportation issues in Irvine for decades and was appointed to the Irvine Transportation Commission by Councilmember Melissa Fox in May 2017.

He is looking forward to seeing you and hearing from you at the Transportation Commission meeting!

What:  Stop Sign Safety Discussion at Irvine Transportation Commission Meeting

When: Tuesday, December 4, 2018, at 5:30 PM

Where: Conference and Training Center Room, One Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, California 92606

The Real Deal on Traffic Light Synchronization in Irvine!

I often get questions from Irvine residents about traffic light synchronization. To help answer these questions, I enlisted the help of my appointee to the Irvine Transportation Commission, Ken Montgomery.

Irvine Transportation Commissioner Ken Montgomergy

Ken knows more about these matters than just about anyone.  He is a retired civil engineer with more than 40 years of experience in managing public works and traffic and transportation issues. He served as Director of Public Works for three Southern California cities: Norwalk, Redondo Beach, and Laguna Niguel.

Ken retired from the City of Laguna Niguel in 2009 after 18 years as that City’s first Director of Public Works/City Engineer.

Ken has been closely following transportation and traffic issues in Irvine for decades and has served as a member of the Irvine Transportation Commission since it was re-established in May 2017, initially as its Chair.

Here is what Ken has to say about traffic light synchronization in Irvine:

Traffic Light Synchronization in Irvine

Ken Montgomergy

City of Irvine Transportation Commissioner

Overview

The City of Irvine owns and operates over 370 traffic signals.

All of the city’s traffic signals on the major corridors in Irvine are already synchronized.

There are another 40 Traffic signals at freeway on and off ramps that are owned and operated by Caltrans.  Those 40 signals are in the process of being upgraded so they can be coordinated with Irvine’s signals on those specific corridors.

What is Traffic Signal Coordination?

Traffic Signal Synchronization is a traffic engineering technique of matching the green light times for a series of intersections to enable the maximum number of vehicles to pass through, thereby reducing stops and delays experienced by motorists.

Synchronizing traffic signals ensures a better flow of traffic and minimizes gas consumption and pollutant emissions.

Driving on a corridor that is synchronized does not means that a driver will get all green lights. Rather, the system attempts to maximize the efficiency of the system favoring the heaviest traffic directions depending on the time of day.

For instance, Jamboree Road traffic is twice as heavy in the southbound direction in the morning compared to morning northbound traffic. The synchronization system sets the timing to favor the southbound direction in the morning. The opposite occurs in the evening peak period when north bound Jamboree traffic is much heavier than the southbound traffic.

Irvine’s Traffic System

The City operates 19 synchronized traffic signal systems that are currently not coordinated with the Caltrans signals. Within the next 12-18 months, the Caltrans signals will be coordinated with the City’s synchronization program, which will considerably help traffic flow on those corridors.

These 19 synchronized traffic signal systems crisscross each other, which means that two heavy traffic corridors are competing for the same green light time.  Also, heavy left turn demand at intersections limits the amount of green light time available for through traffic.  In addition, timing plans for these corridors can get out of date as traffic patterns change all the time. The city is constantly taking new traffic counts and making adjustments to the synchronization plans.

Traffic signal equipment also gets old and obsolete, so the city typically upgrades all the equipment and recalculates the timing plans on three or four corridors per year. These updates also involve adjacent cities so the synchronization program can operate across city lines.  For example, we currently have two synchronization projects underway with the City of Tustin.

The City of Irvine has a traffic signal control center at City Hall, called the Irvine Traffic Research and Control Center (ITRAC) that monitors those 19 synchronized corridors with video detection.  ITRAC is staffed by traffic engineers from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  When there is a construction project or a utility repair or a traffic accident that takes out a lane, staff modifies the signal timing to prevent a major back up in the direction where the constriction is taking place. Only Irvine and Anaheim have this type of traffic signal management center in Orange County.

There are three periods during the day when these 19 corridors are synchronized, the AM peak period, the mid-day peak period and the PM peak period. The hours of operation of those three periods varies from corridor to corridor. Corridors are typically not synchronized on weekend days except when there is a special event.  When a corridor is not is the synchronized mode, traffic signals operate independently within certain pre-programmed parameters. Traffic signals detect the presence of vehicles and bicycles all around the intersection and allocate the green light time as necessary.

Reporting a Problem

If you ever observe a traffic signal that you think is not functioning properly, call ITRAC and report it.

Their direct line is 949 724-7324.  Just tell them what you observed at a specific traffic signal and they will check it on the monitors and fix the problem if necessary. Traffic signals are complicated systems and require constant observation.

I know we would all love to have green lights all the time, but that is just not reality.  If it were, we would implement the “All Green Light Plan” — as would every city.