PLAYA DEL REY (CBSLA) — Did the public help kill the plan to reduce lanes on some of the busiest streets in West Los Angeles?
Locals in the self-described sleepy beach town of Playa del Rey say they were able to convince officials to reverse a road diet in town. They told KCAL9/CBS2's Jo Kwon how they did it.
"These are major arterial roads and a road diet on major arterial doesn't make sense," said John Russo, who helped spearhead the campaign to get rid of the so-called road diet. He says public backlash helped reverse the decision made in June.
City officials had said reducing lanes of traffic on Culver, Pershing and Vista Del Mar would actually make the roads safer.
"No it absolutely did not make it safer," said Russo. "We have an average of 11.6 accidents per year here on these roads in Playa del Rey. We've counted 53 accidents in the last four months."
Another part of the backlash -- multiple lawsuits were filed to stop the project.
"And the nail in the coffin for the road diet was the businesses," said Russo.
Local shops in Playa lost major business. Miracle Shoe Repair says there was a nearly 50 percent drop in sales.
Owner Ray Karapetyan says during the road diet he had days with nothing to do.
"And that has never happened in the last 10 years, let alone the last five years," said Karapetyan.
Another business in town took out loans to stay afloat.
"So when they actually saw the disaster that they had created, I think it was time to do something," said Karapetyan.
LA Councilman Mike Bonin released this statement: "…community feedback has been a crucial component in creating a safe and inviting neighborhood, and I greatly appreciate neighbors' input and the constructive suggestions that have been offered in recent months."
Bonin says lanes will be restored soon.
The plan is to add safety improvements without adding to commute times. So they're going to add more flashing beacon crosswalks on Culver, as well as Pershing Drive.
Signals will also be changed and speed-like bumps will also be added. Work begins Oct. 27.
"Absolutely ecstatic that the roads are coming back," said Russo.
"I don't really trust this until I actually see it happen," said Karapetyan.
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