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Holland Park struggles with drivers detouring Chestnut closure; meeting Jan. 12

       Holland Park is a go-to place for its roughly 1,200 homes, but of late it's become a go-through for thousands of random motorists speedily detouring around the closed-off Chestnut Street bridge.
       Since the city's emergency bridge closure Aug. 10, a heavily used bypass has been Vondelpark Drive. Chestnut normally runs directly
A southbound car on Vondelpark Drive approaches the stop sign at Amstel Drive that was installed in October.
Westside Pioneer photo
between Fillmore Street and Garden of the Gods Road. Now, people going north on Chestnut have to turn onto Vondelpark when they encounter the closure.
       As Vondelpark resident Geri Anne Reed described it, such drivers are likely frustrated by the detour and speed through the neighborhood to make up for lost time.
       “It's terrifying to stand on the sidewalk next to your street and have somebody blow by at 35 to 40 mph and there's nothing you can do,” she said.
       But Reed has done more than wring her hands. After talking to some neighbors, she appealed for relief to city transportation officials and Don Knight, the City Councilmember whose District 1 includes Holland Park.
       This resulted in the city putting three stop signs in October along Vondelpark's half-mile-plus stretch between Chestnut and Holland Park Boulevard. Previously, it had no speeding deterrent except a few gradual curves. The stop-sign locations are Valkenburg Drive, Amstel Drive and Holland Park Boulevard.
       But these installations have not been as effective as Reed had wished. Despite added police enforcement - another part of the city's response - too many people still ignore the stop signs and drive too fast, she pointed out, and this even includes some of her neighbors.
       She is hopeful that a neighborhood meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m., with City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager will help bring Holland Park residents together on solutions. The meeting location, according to Reed, will be Springs Journey Church, 1250 Vondelpark.
       An additional idea she has suggested to the city - so far in vain - is the erection of advance street signage, to alert drivers that a detour is ahead and offer a route to avoid it. That way, more drivers might use main roads, rather than neighborhood streets, to find their way around the closure. For example, she told the city in an email, “We would suggest directing traffic west on Fillmore to Centennial, then north to Garden of the Gods where speeds are also already out of control, but at least it's expected there.”
       The city has not done a formal study of the detour issue. “We don't know how much traffic has increased, but it has increased,” said Aaron Egbert of City Engineering. He thinks the stop signs are helping “maintain a residential operating speed and volume. The city did not have plans to install the stop signs, but did so to help with complaints and concerns.”
       The city is working to reopen Chestnut, with an announced completion of the bridge repair in October 2016.
       Egbert said the three new Vondelpark stop signs “could remain” after the project is complete.
       Another aspect of the Holland Park traffic situation is the challenge that can arise in gaining a neighborhood consensus. The area once had an active neighborhood group, the Holland Park Community Association (HPCA) - which organized activities such as cleanups, picnics and group yard sales - but it went dormant in about 2010 when its leaders could no longer devote time to it. Although Reed has lived in Holland Park for about 12 years, she said in an interview that she had not heard of the HPCA before. She explained that her main communication medium on the traffic matter has been online postings using a neighborhood-oriented “nextdoor.com” site, but she is not certain how many people see them.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/1/16; Community: Neighborhoods)

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