Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project Begins in South Pasadena

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I have been saying for years that Pasadena needs to give Fair Oaks Ave an extreme pedestrian-cyclist make-over along the street from at least the South Pasadena border (by the Raymond Restaurant) to Old Pasadena. The need for this make-over seems obvious when you consider: 1) Fair Oaks Ave looks like a mini-highway as you drive or, god forbid, walk down it, and 2) that the Huntington Hospital (a huge employer) adds a substantial presence to the built environment in Downtown Pasadena, but is tenuously connected at best to the area for pedestrians and cyclists, diluting if not completely negating its potential positive effects on the urban environment. In other words, the synergy is lost.

That’s why I am particularly excited to learn that South Pasadena (actually a separate municipality but closely tied to Pasadena both historically and culturally) will hopefully jump start the process for Pasadena (by giving us an inspirational nudge) as construction begins this week on a major revamp project along Fair Oaks Ave, called the “Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project,” that goes right through South Pasadena’s downtown district. The improvement plans entail the following:

1 24 11 yen2“Roadway improvements, construction of medians, installation of streetlights and banner poles, installation of trees and landscaping, driveway and sidewalk reconstruction and other associated work on Fair Oaks Avenue between Columbia Street and Monterey Road, and the entire length of State Street.”

“The entire project should take about a year to complete,” according to the Assistant City Manager of South Pasadena, Sergio Gonzalez, who I spoke to this month regarding this infrastructure project. Gonzalez also informed me that the Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project is actually only one of four major roadway enhancements South Pasadena planned to complete, funded by a combination of the Rogan Bill, Metro, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and other local funds.  The entire list of projects include:

1) Orange Grove Improvement Project (Completed in 2005)

2) Fair Oaks Traffic Signal Improvement Project (Completed)

3) Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project (Under Construction)

4) Fair Oaks/110 Freeway Intersection Improvement Project (Proposed)

I am hoping that when the Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project is completed early next year in 2012, Pasadena will be inspired to implement similar roadway enhancements along Fair Oaks Ave from the South Pasadena border to at least Old Pasadena, improving the connection of the area by encouraging pedestrian activity (along with policy changes that nurture future mixed-use developments). When you consider that the Fillmore Gold Line station, which is only 2 short blocks from the Huntington Hospital, is currently surrounded by “nothing,” do we really need anymore reasons why we should invest in this area?