Residents near Van Nuys Airport feel heard, but they’re still angry
The intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Pico Boulevard, near Van Nuys Airport (VAN2), had been a busy but quiet intersection in the middle of the year.
It was only in September when one of the city’s busiest intersections — and some of the world’s busiest airport — erupted in a traffic nightmare.
On a Saturday afternoon, a woman parked her car at Ventura and Pico Boulevard and turned around to find she was trapped between two moving vehicles, which she couldn’t back out of.
“She had to stop and walk back a few steps,” said airport spokesman Bill Darke. “A few drivers came up with their cell phones out. I don’t recall exactly who called 911 to get her out.”
Darke said that was the last time the intersection was the scene of a dramatic turn of events.
“It’s been a quiet intersection for years, and then this week it was so loud and it caused major headaches.”
But drivers, airport officials and neighborhood residents disagreed about what the traffic headache had done to downtown.
Pico Boulevard is a dead-end street that is notorious for two reasons: it’s a prime location for narcotics traffickers to conduct business, and it’s a source of complaints from the community.
City officials estimated that the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Pico Boulevard had seen roughly 40 traffic crashes in 2013. That’s just two crashes a day. It’s the equivalent of a minor accident every other day. The intersection has even had a couple of fatalities in recent years.
But Darke said traffic to the airport hadn’t been a problem in recent years. He estimated about 200 cars pass through the intersection a day.
“This intersection has actually had a positive impact on the downtown area,” Darke said. “It’s a lot safer for pedestrians and also cyclists, cyclists get a lot more attention there than they do on other streets.”
Many Pico and Ventura Boulevard residents have long felt as though the intersection was underutilized. Many felt that the best use of the intersection would be to serve as a gateway for the airport, and for motorists.
But Darke said that isn’t the case.