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MAILBAG: Just leave Olive Avenue alone

August 19, 2009

I have read in the Burbank Leader that the beautification of Olive Avenue is being considered (“Funds repurposed for Olive Avenue,” Aug. 1). I think that’s unnecessary and could even be detrimental.

We can look at Burbank Boulevard as proof. The street is wide and straight, with a lot of commercial, mostly nonretail-type businesses. It is not a street with much, if any, pedestrian traffic.

A few years ago, the decision was made to pretty it up, hoping to encourage more people to shop there, a la Magnolia Park. Trees were removed and replaced with others, steel benches were installed on the sidewalks and vegetation-filled concrete medians were placed at numerous places in its center lane.

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From my observations, those changes have not increased the number of customers to the boulevard’s businesses; but they have made it significantly less safe than it was before. What we got were changes made for aesthetics with inadequate regard for safety, functionality or human nature.

Burbank Boulevard runs east and west. During the morning and afternoon rush-hour traffic, when it’s full of cars traveling quick speeds on their way to work or home, the bright low sun shines directly into the eyes of drivers, compromising their vision.

Burbank Boulevard has two lanes running in each direction and, in between them, a center “safety” lane used for drivers to wait safely when turning. With those center lanes, a driver turning onto the boulevard has to brave traffic from only one direction at a time. But the concrete medians have removed much of the escape room from the center lane.

The design company apparently had no oversight for safety, and evidently made choices from books and not from driving the boulevard and surrounding streets. They created a boulevard that — merely for the sake of aesthetics — is much more dangerous than it was and should be. When trying to turn left onto Burbank Boulevard during rush hour, one’s vision is blocked by parked cars along the curb, larger trees and eye-piercing sun.

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