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Vehicular Traffic Returns to Rose Bowl Loop

Published on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 | 1:50 pm
The Arroyo Terrace road just east of the Rose Bowl is blocked off to traffic for safety of pedestrians during the reopening of the Rose Bowl loop after being closed for a month due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Pasadena, on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (Photo by James Carbone)

Faced with skyrocketing costs to run it safely with borders and proper public safety equipment, the Rose Bowl Loop reopened to vehicles on Tuesday.

“The loop has now transferred back to its pre-COVID-19 configuration,” said Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian. “The decision was based on the numbers of people recreating being lower than anticipated and the costs to sustain with the traffic barriers and staffing. We found people were creatures of habit and even with a wider range of space to utilize for physical distancing they still gravitated to the pedestrian areas.”

The City Council directed staff to allow vehicular traffic at the popular recreation local destination after extra costs associated with closing the loop to vehicular traffic caused the price to soar from a projected $43,000 a month to a whopping $145,000 a month.

Blair Miller with the Pasadena Complete Street Coalition said there are still other options to reduce traffic in the area.

“I believe one of the main reasons the council’s opening it to traffic now is because to keep it closed on a temporary basis like they have been doing is very costly,” Miller said. “And right now the city is in a budget crisis and we recognize that. Everybody recognizes that. So we do need to look at other more cost effective ways. So things like making the traffic a one way loop or slowing the cars down might be more cost effective ways.”

The extra costs came from emergency barricades and equipment needed for pedestrian safety and emergency vehicle access. Those protocols have to be in place 24 hours a day. The original cost estimate had the protocols in place from 5 a.m. until 8:30 p.m, and the number of people actually using the loop was “significantly lower than anticipated.”

According to a previous staff report, more than 2,000 people typically use the loop daily. But only about 2,500 people visited the loop in the first six days it was open, about 1,000 of those were there on Sunday May 17.

Visitors also tended to use the curbs and walkways around the Rose Bowl rather than spreading out into the open streets, said Williams.

The Council eventually accepted the staff recommendation to reopen the loop area to vehicular traffic and re-open parking lots, while still encouraging mask usage and social distancing.

According to Derderian, the other conditions still remain.

People in the loop must practice physical distancing, wear face coverings, cannot congregate in any areas and must pick up masks, gloves, empty water bottles, sanitizing wipes, and other trash.

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