A community-driven push to create a "complete street" on Colorado Boulevard through the proposed North Hollywood - Pasadena bus rapid transit (BRT) line may be starting to see results.
The proposed BRT line, which was one of four such projects explicitly funded via Measure M, calls for the construction of new bus infrastructure along a roughly 18-mile corridor connecting the cities of Los Angeles, Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena. Metro is studying multiple alignments for the North Hollywood-Pasadena line, which would mostly run in dedicated lanes on existing city streets. One of those potential corridors included in the study is a two-mile segment of Colorado Boulevard in the Eagle Rock community.
The proposed route - bounded by an onramp to the SR-134 freeway in the east and Broadway in the west - includes the commercial core of Eagle Rock, which is centered on the intersection of Colorado and Eagle Rock Boulevards. Planning for the BRT line has been complicated by competing desires of local businesses, residents, and transportation activities to simultaneously maintain existing street parking, buffered bike lanes, and landscaped medians, while also accommodating future curb extensions and pedestrian safety projects along the corridor.
However, early stumbles in the project's outreach process nearly led to it all but skipping Eagle Rock, according to architect Michael MacDonald, who has advocated for the project the organization Beautiful Boulevard Coalition. Some of the initial community meetings held for the BRT Line were dominated by project opponents, reports Streetsblog, which documented a series of misleading social media posts and racist incidents targeting supporters. Although Metro's has found that a majority of the community supports the project, vocal backlash some residents against street-running BRT led the agency to consider a freeway-running alignment which would avoid Eagle Rock's commercial spine.
The Beautiful Boulevard Coalition, which launched in support of a street-running alternative, has sought to forge a compromise solution which addresses issues such as parking and landscaping, while sidestepping the complaints of opponents of the project as a whole. The organization, which is backed by local business and non-profit groups, has called for a contextual approach to Colorado Boulevard, in lieu of a "one size fits all" solution.
Under the Beautiful Boulevard plan, bus lanes on Colorado would be divided into three segments, in similar fashion to the specific plan which already governs land use and development along the corridor.
Zone 1 - the segment between Eagle Rock Boulevard in the east and the Y-shaped intersection of Colorado and Broadway to the west - sees the heaviest automobile use due to its proximity to the SR-134 and SR-2 freeways. The Beautiful Boulevard concept calls for maintaining all existing vehicle travel lines in this segment while also creating space for new landscaped medians and bus lanes. This would be achieved by removing some street parking as well as buffers from existing bike lanes.
Zone 2 - which runs from Eagle Rock Boulevard to Dahlia Drive - comprises Eagle Rock's downtown core. The Beautiful Boulevard concept proposes maintaining existing landscaped medians, and replanting them with native species, while also expanding sidewalks to incorporated new protected bike lanes that are flush with the sidewalk. This proposal would create space for bus lanes by reallocating one general travel lane in each direction, but maintain existing curb parking used by stores and restaurants.
Zone 3 - between Dahlia and Mt. Helena Avenue - would maintain the same layout as the central segment, narrowing the street to create safer crossings for students at Dahlia Heights elementary school. This concept would move existing bike lanes to the curbside, while retaining parking as a barrier to vehicle traffic lanes.
The community proposal appears to have taken purchase, recently securing the support of Los Angeles County Supervisors and Metro Board member Hilda Solis. Now, according to a presentation given to an Eagle Rock roundtable meeting on March 16, Metro has started to incorporate several elements of the Beautiful Boulevard concept into its plans for Colorado Boulevard, including:
- converting one travel lane to BRT lanes in each direction east of Eagle Rock Boulevard;
- retaining approximately 90 percent of street parking in Zone 2; and
- accommodating left turn pockets at select locations.
However, the revised Metro proposal does not incorporate median-running bus lanes in the Zone 1 segment, citing the Los Angeles Department of Transportation's recommendation for curbside lanes. Likewise, the Metro plan retains buffered bike lanes along the full corridor, but does not upgrade the Zone 2 segment to the grade-separated protected lanes proposed in the Beautiful Boulevard concept.
“Even though this project is meant supposedly to provide accessible, reliable transportation, [Metro's] first priority always seems to be cars," says Q. Sarah Ostendorf, an advocate for the Beautiful Boulevard plan. "They’re very concerned about left turn lanes and the flow of traffic - but we're two blocks from a major highway. We should prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, rather than through traffic.”
Q., who is a faculty member at Occidental College, notes that Metro's updated plan for Zone 2 calls for separating the station serving the intersection of Colorado and Eagle Rock Boulevard into two separt platforms located a block apart, one of which would be adjacent two two gas stations. Likewise, the number of marked pedestrian crossings in the Metro plan falls short of the Beatiful Boulevard concept.
“If you want to ‘revitalize’ this strip of Colorado, you’ll have more people crossing at night, in the dark, by themselves,” says Q. “Those people have concerns about crossing in well-lit places. I don’t love the idea of waiting by myself in the middle of a six lane road after dark next to a strip mall."
Metro is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting regarding the North Hollywood-Pasadena bus rapid transit line on April 1 from 5 pm to 7 pm. For more information, click here.
The latest round of community meetings comes in advance of an anticipated hearing on the revised plan by Metro Board in May 2021. The final plan for the North Hollywood-Pasadena line is scheduled to be announced in Summer 2021, when the Board will vote on the projects final environmental impact report.
To date, Metro has secured approximately $267 million in funding for the BRT line through a combination of state and local sources. The expected total cost of the project is $297 million, according to an estimated included in its environmental impact report.
Construction of North Hollywood-Pasadena line is scheduled to begin in 2024, according to the Measure M expenditure plan.
For more information on the Beautiful Boulevard concept, click here.
- North Hollywood-Pasadena BRT Line (Urbanize LA)