Day to day commutes might get a little easier for Garden Grove residents following a decision by city council members to adopt traffic light synchronization projects for Garden Grove Boulevard and Katella Street.

“With the traffic delay, also severed is the cost of business, the cost of potential people that can come and shop in Garden Grove,” said Mayor Pro Tem Phat Bui, “And therefore, I think there is a real strong (contingent) for intention-able benefits, 45 minutes each day, 365 days a year add up to a lot more than the city matching fund is.

”I just want to clarify this point to the public, I believe the benefit (of reducing traffic) in terms of financial would be tremendous for merchants in Garden Grove,” he added during the Nov. 28 city council meeting.

The Orange County Transportation Authority issued a call for projects to coordinate traffic signals across jurisdictional boundaries in the county funded under the Comprehensive Transportation Funding Programs. Two corridors, Garden Grove Boulevard and Katella Avenue, were identified as heavily traveled corridors that would benefit from traffic signal coordination.

Traffic signal coordination occurs when a group of two or more traffic signals are working together so cars moving through the group will make the least number of stops possible.

There will be no impact to the Garden Grove General Fund. Public Works will be funding the projects through Traffic Mitigation Fees and Measure M2 Local Fair Share according to Public Works Director Bill Murray.

This is just one transportation improvement Garden Grove has been making steadily since The West County Connectors project was completed in 2014. The project was a partnership between OCTA and Caltrans linking (HOV) lanes/carpool lanes on the San Diego Freeway (I-405) with those on the Garden Grove Freeway (SR-22) and San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) to create a seamless carpool connection among the three freeways.

“Those streets have been compacted over the years, and that’s why these synchronization projects keep coming up, is as cities develop and there’s new destinations that are created, traffic patterns tend to change,” Murray said. “Also our freeway improvements or even construction works will have a significant impact on traffic patterns.”

New planning theory, coupled with consumer demand for public transit, has brought greater attention to how transportation planning decisions fit into the design of healthy communities. According to Murray, the transportation improvements and specifically, the traffic light synchronization, will have a positive impact on commuters and the city.

“It will move the vehicles along at an orderly pace and with the overlaying hope that they will spend less time stopped. When you reduce the amount of vehicle down-time in terms of being stopped at a signal, you save motorists in terms of gas and you also save them in terms of emissions, so you are not creating as much smog, theoretically,” he said.

The proposed Garden Grove Boulevard project spans approximately 8.6 miles and includes 34 traffic signals. It would begin at Valley View Street in Westminster and end at Bristol Street in Santa Ana. Garden Grove currently has jurisdiction of 20 traffic signals on Garden Grove Boulevard.

The proposed Katella Avenue project spans approximately 19.6 miles and includes 73 traffic signals. It would begin at the I-605 in Los Alamitos and end at Jamboree Street in Orange. Garden Grove currently has jurisdiction of two traffic signals on Katella Avenue.

See maps here

The City of Garden Grove’s financial responsibility for the two projects is estimated at $464,972, covered by the Traffic Mitigation Fees and Measure M2 Local Fair Share, not the general budget.

“People get excited, you see those large figures,” said Council Member John R. O’Neill. “I just wanted to point out that 464 is not coming out of our general budget – the general plan I should say.”

Both projects will include the development and implementation of signal timing, traffic signal equipment upgrades, and two years of traffic signal timing maintenance. The projects are anticipated to begin September 2018.

Natalie van Winden is a student journalist at Chapman University participating in the Voice of OC Youth Media program.

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