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:

Screen_shot_2009_11_11_at_9.57.59_AM.png

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?

  • Jeff

    Why not remove the spur south of the 5 freeway? Terminating Route 2 at the 5 would undoubtedly reduce congestion in silver lake and echo park and improve the livability of both neighborhoods.

  • I know that the reasons for LADOT’s heavy pro-car bias are complex, but I was reading from their playbook last night and think I found one of the many reasons they are so insistent on destroying the city they work for with private automobile traffic.

    In the City’s General Plan, in Chapter 6 “Street Designations and Standards”, the City lays out all the legal parameters it will use to design and plan the use of the right-of-way.

    LA uses a couple of general streetscape design guidelines – and their structure is interesting:
    1. Pedestrian Priority Street Segments
    2. Transit Priority Streets
    3. Standard (vehicle priority) Streets

    Unless otherwise noted, all the Major and Secondary Highway streets in LA are “Vehicle Priority”.

    Of these Standard (vehicle priority) streets, what does the city recommend as a minimum of performance?

    “[T]he following minimum performance criteria are set forth for each street designation, expressed in both laneage and vehicular volume capacity for all arterial streets with intersections operating at level of service D or worse during peak hours; selection criteria for designations are expressed in average daily trips (ADT).”

    a. Major Highway – Class I
    Selection Criteria: more than 50,000 ADT
    Performance Criteria:
    • four travel lanes in each direction during peak hours
    • left turn lanes at signalized intersections
    • 3200 vehicles per hour (vph) in each direction during peak hours
    b. Major Highway – Class II
    Selection Criteria
    • Major highways (Class II) should typically be located one mile apart in a grid
    system.
    • 30,000 to 50,000 ADT
    Performance Criteria:
    • three travel lanes in each direction during peak hours
    • left turn lanes at signalized intersections.
    • 2400 vph in each direction during peak hours
    c. Secondary Highway
    Selection Criteria:
    • Secondary highways supplement the through-traffic carrying characteristics of
    major highways. They should typically be located one mile apart midway between
    major highways in a grid system.
    • 20,000 to 30,000 ADT
    Performance Criteria:
    • two travel lanes in each direction during peak hours
    • left turn lanes at signalized intersections.
    • 1400 vph in each direction during peak hours

    So, clearly, you can see where the LADOT is coming from – they are seemingly obligated to shove as much of this car-only crap down our throats as possible, even when that will negatively impact our safety, our businesses, our air quality, and our quality of life.

    Glendale is clearly a Major Class I highway – and no attempts have been successful at changing the designation of this street, have they? It would be great to great to see the council office take Glendale down a notch – and thus tie the LADOT’s hands in this matter. Those guys will shovel as much sewage through our streets as the can get a way with!

  • Jeff, the neighborhood would prefer removal of the spur south of the 5 freeway. I remember attending a meeting at least 10 years ago when Villaraigiosa was the Assemblyman for the area. The community pressed for removal but it was clear Caltrans and LADOT would have none of it. I actually pointed to the residents due to a recently enacted reform of state funding (Senate Bill 45) that Metro prioritized most local spending through the STIP and Caltrans only dictated spending of the 25% reserved for inter-regional projects, so the Metro Board should be the focus of their advocacy, and they could ignore caltrans. Boy, the folks from Caltrans looked dumfounded at the news. Someone later told me news often spreads slowly in large bureaucracies. Sadly Metro has proven a helpless giant that has many powers it is loath to utilize. It is under pressure by electeds etc. that allows LADOT and Caltrans to dictate according to their priorities when they actually shouldn’t be anything more than merely advisory.

    To appease the auto obsessed LADOT traffic engineers the neighborhood proposed along with the removal of the spur that an elevated bypass (a glorified extended off ramp) linking the 5 and downtown be built that would siphon off the traffic that now floods into downtown via Glendale Blvd. It was an old idea that somebody named Ruben Lebraze (I know my spelling is off on that) had actually been able to get blueprints by some official entity done of it at one point, before the idea stalled. The ramp would skirt what is now the state park north of Chinatown and end near Union Station. The Gold Line and other development that have happened since may make the concept harder to do and or liable to objection by stakeholders of Chinatown and downtown.

    My sympathy to the folks of Echo Park that are all these years later still fighting the good fight.

  • Jeff

    Thanks Dana, that’s good to know. I too hope the local community can sustain the fight.

    I assume that any mention of tearing down the Route 2 spur is immediately met by two arguments: (1) it is too expensive and (2) tearing it down will increase traffic.

    I say fine, let’s test the traffic engineers’ theory. Why don’t we run a 3 month pilot program where Route 2 is closed to all traffic south of the 5 freeway, simulating its removal. At little to no cost, this allows us to see what the actual effects of such a project would be, both for local residents and traffic flow. Any further discussion about what to do with the Route 2 spur would be greatly enhanced by the real-time data produced from this pilot program.

  • Paul

    If this happens and they increase traffic flow on Glendale, people can kiss their property values good buy.

  • Ron

    Another missed opportunity to create a livable street in LA. One of these days we’ll get it right.

  • Residents are going to know about this and make a boisterous stand if I have to go door to door on every block in a two mile radius. This off ramp has been the bane of my existence since my first attempt to bike from Echo Park to Eagle Rock when I was 16. The SR2 terminus has created a dead zone all up and down both Glendale and Alvarado and it’s time for the community to let the rest of LA know that if you want to come to our neighborhood, awesome, but you’re not going to do it in a 3 thousand pound killing machine and you’re not going to be allowed to destroy our streets so you don’t have to take the 101 to the 110 to the 5 on your commute home to the valley.

  • Bob

    I think they should just finish it off as designed. Straight on down Sliver Lake Blvd to the 101. The ramps at the 101 and SLB are already built. Just finish it. Result, way less traffic!

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