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    Lane Reduction at Ojai Ave (Hwy 150) and Maricopa Hwy (Hwy 33) called “The Y”

    By Jeffrey Weinstein


    This is from the City of Ojai’s website is the 60% complete set of construction documents (CDs) for the intersection at Ojai Ave (Hwy 150) and Maricopa Hwy (Hwy 33) called “The Y”  Ojai Ave @ Maricopa Hwy Intersection
    Before turning our attention to the primary traffic intersection in Ojai, last week we learned that congestion and gridlock (7:30am school mornings, July 4th festivities, football games, graduation, Special Olympics, i.e., all community events) are inevitable at the Cuyama Rd./El Roblar Dr. intersection with Maricopa Hwy (called “The 5-STOP”), because 4 streets (El Roblar, Hwy 33, Rancho Rd and Cuyama all converge on a 1-lane Maricopa Hwy with parallel parking between trees where the “slow” lane used to be.  With woefully inadequate turning radius for semi-trucks, motor homes and Ojai Hospital’s MRI truck, and increased emergency response times due to congestion, lane reduction will permanently alter our rural 2-lane blacktop into a dense urban street, making evacuation impassable during a wildfire.
    The first thing to notice at the intersection of Ojai Ave (Hwy 150) and Maricopa Hwy (Hwy 33) attached above is that one (1) westbound vehicle lane on Ojai Ave has been completely eliminated, replaced with a new bike lane and traffic island.  (Please note the Ojai Bike Trail runs parallel to Ojai Ave just 50 feet to the south of the new bike lane, and there appears to be a 3rd new bike lane diagonally connecting Ojai Ave to Maricopa Hwy to the north.)  What is the reason for eliminating a 2nd vehicle lane to pass slow-moving vehicles (semi-trucks hauling rock, huge trucks carrying hay, motor homes, sight-seeing tourists, seniors and student drivers), when it already takes 30+ minutes traveling Hwy 150 from Santa Paula to Ojai?  Removing this one and only opportunity for residents and visitors to pass slower moving vehicles will impact local businesses, commuters and workers, tourists and emergency vehicles, harming our ability to remain economically competitive and sustainable.  This is what the bicycle advocates intended, to get people out of their cars by making driving a frustrating and stressful experience.  
    Now look at the entry to Maricopa Hwy going north, the “narrow throat” created by striping a full lane of Maricopa Hwy for no reason other than slowing traffic, causing unnecessary congestion, and ultimately traffic gridlock.  The 2-lane eastbound Ojai Ave has an existing left-hand turn lane onto Maricopa Hwy, and the westbound Ojai Ave has a right-hand turn lane onto Maricopa Hwy, and the 2 lanes converge at the same location as a pedestrian crosswalk, an accident waiting to happen.  Currently, both the eastbound lane turning left (when the light is green) and westbound lane turning right can both enter the 2-lane Maricopa Hwy simultaneously, with a narrow throat and just a single lane, that will no longer be possible, causing traffic to backup.  Entering a 1-lane Maricopa Hwy from both the eastbound and westbound Ojai Ave lanes will cause a bottleneck at the same location as the crosswalk.  With the eliminated westbound vehicle lane and no ability to pass slow-moving vehicles, plus the reduced capacity of Maricopa Hwy, traffic will backup on Ojai Ave to Country Club Drive, then Bristol Road and eventually downtown.  
    During the Thomas Fire Maricopa Hwy served as access for an army of fire-fighting assets (photo attached above).  With just a single lane and residents evacuating, access via Maricopa Hwy will be constrained, making it much more difficult to fight another firestorm in the Los Padres National Forest.  Thank you, Jeff   
    <span style=font family helvetica arial sans seriffont size 12pt>Photo Credit Jeffrey Weinstein<span>


    Jeffery Weinstein is a Ventura County resident and architect 

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    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    2 years ago

    Fire Protection vehicles may be encumbered to address fires but, GOSH, we have very generous bike lanes. And isn’t that more important?

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