LADOT Values Capacity over Community on Route 2/Glendale Blvd. Drags Metro along for the Ride

For over a decade, the Echo Park community has been in negotiations with the big three of local transportation agencies, Metro, LADOT and Caltrans, over redesigning the terminus of Route 2 to improve traffic flow. Over forty years ago a coalition of Echo Park and Silver Lake residents banded together to keep Route 2 from being completed south through several neighborhoods. The result is the road ends sharply at Glendale Boulevard and creates traffic jams on both Route 2 and Glendale Blvd. All three agencies have to agree on an alternative for it to move to the build stage.

11_11_09_d.jpgThe community preferred Alternative D via The Eastsider

However, the progressives in Echo Park are pushing a plan that would actually increase open space and beautify the community. By changing the freeway bridge crossing above Glendale Boulevard into a public space with greenspace, enhancing the area around the historic Tommy Lasorda Field of Dreams; the community is pushing a third-way to deal with traffic instead of just looking at "expand" and "do nothing." The community-preferred-alternative, Alterntative D, was not included in the early environmental studies done by "transportation professionals" on behalf of Metro and were only included because of a massive community effort.

Earlier this summer, the residents seemed to have convinced Metro staff that their alternative was the best alternative and the agency pledged support at a community meeting. However, the community's plans were dashed last week when Metro held a presentation that The Eastsider dubbed, "(a meeting where) MTA officials will explain why the agency can't get behind the residents' proposal and will need more time and money to study yet another idea to untangle what's officially called the State Route 2 Terminus." Instead of sticking with "Alternative D," Metro is proposing a "hybrid" alternative that takes pieces from many of the proposals outlined in the environmental documents. The only community meeting, besides the Metro Board process which will begin at next Wednesday's Planning and Programming Committee Meeting, was the one held last week.

So what does the community think of the new proposed "locally preferred alternative?" According to The Eastsider, not much:

The idea, as presented to Lassen and other residents, keeps the bridge over Glendale Boulevard for motorists and realigns some other lanes. That would fall far short of what Lassen and others have wanted.

So what happened? Why the change in heart from backing a progressive community design to where we are now? Would you be surprised to discover that the black hat in the story is riding a horse named LADOT?

The Echo Park Community Action Committee's most recent newsletter laid out the positions and logic of all of the transportation agencies that are part of the Terminus Study. While it knocked Metro for supporting an alternative in public but not pushing it with the other agencies, and Caltrans for backing the hybrid; it reserved its harshest criticism for the asphalt-lovers at LADOT. Directly from the newsletter:

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In addition to just ignoring the wishes of the community, the new design also ignores the initial purpose of the study which was, as local blog Red Car Property tells us was, "removing vehicle traffic from the southbound flyover ramp at the Terminus." Instead, the new plan could add traffic to a stretch of road that then-Council Woman Jackie Goldberg described as dangerous and unsafe.

Could you imagine the reaction if a similar plan were proposed for a street on the Westside? Residents there will go to the mat over removing some parking, bringing in their Council Members and making a key issue in a local council race. All of that begs the question, where is Eric Garcetti?