After 30 Years, a Boyle Heights Intersection Gets a Traffic Light

The intersection of Fresno Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue turned on its streetlight Saturday. Los Angeles Department of Transportation received $250,000 to install the streetlight Photo by Kris Fortin.

After 30 years, and five different councilmembers, community members from Boyle Heights finally got  a traffic light at the heavily congested intersection of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Fresno Street. Councilman Jose Huizar, District 14, and local community members gathered Saturday morning to turn on the traffic light, and recall the work that it took to get it at the intersection.

“It took six years, but in the grander scheme of things, that’s not a long time,” said Huizar.

Los Angeles Department of Transportation received $250,000 through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to install the streetlight. Los Angeles has had few new streetlights installed because of budget cuts and staff shortages, said Mehrdad Moshkar, an LADOT district engineer. So bringing a traffic light to this Boyle Heights intersection, Moshkar said, “is almost making the impossible happen.”

Arturo Solis, the 65-year-old community member that led recent efforts to get the traffic light, said that that even since council member Arthur Snyder his neighbors have been trying to get this streetlight. Community members have been gathering petitions and sending them to each council member following Snyder, including Richard Alatorre, Nick Pacheco, and Antonio Villaraigosa.  For the record, Snyder’s term of office ended in 1985.

“I would meet with all the other previous council members, and there was always, we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it, that was the only reason, but never was there any follow through,” said Irma Medina, a local resident that lives a couple blocks from the intersection, on Folsom Street.

Safe streets is an issue in Boyle Heights and on Cesar Chavez Avenue. In 2009, residents protested for safer streets and the lack of a traffic light at the corner of Forest Avenue and Cesar Chavez Avenue.

But when community members began advocating for the traffic light at the Fresno/Cesar Chavez intersection to councilman Huizar’s office, even holding community meetings in their homes, the Councilman gave more attention than his predecessors.

“We’ve had 30-40 years waiting for the light, so the time that they put it on is ok,” said Medina.

  • Anonymous

    I think the author is confused about terminology. Streetlights provide illumination after dark; traffic signals (informally, traffic lights) control movement of traffic and pedestrians.

  • Ubrayj02

    $250,000 for a traffic signal. Are a portion of those funds being set aside for maintenance?

    Cars will still speed through the area, people will still be induced to “jaywalk” (a disgusting term) – only now  the pedestrians will either have to wait two minutes for the light to change or their deaths and injuries at the hands of speeding motorists will be written off by our justice system (not that they are taken seriously now).

    That same $250,000 could have been put to more productive use reducing the speed and volume of cars by re-striping the street with narrower, and fewer, lanes. The reduced noise along the whole boulevard would reduce the cumulative effects of traffic noise on residents. The entire length of road would have benefited from this money, instead of just one small intersection where motorists pause for a few seconds before slamming on the gas again.

    This $250,000 could have been put to use making the entire street more than what it is now. Instead we just dropped a technology carpet bomb on ourselves and called it a day.

    Enjoy your new safety features, citizens!

  • Dr. Tom

    Couple of comments –
    1.  We in El Sereno and Lincoln Heights consider ourselves part of East LA
    We have also been somewhat joined with Boyle Heights regarding the SR-710 North Extension project, the old 710 “Gap Closure”  and the BusRapidTransit and LRTranist alternatives have been extended down to the EAST LA County center
    2.  In Lincoln Height we have had the same problem with LADoT and pedestrian cross-walks – DoT hates them unless they can put signals on them and synchonize those with the traffic lights to allow good commuterr traffic flows through…Monterey Park, Alhambra, SoPasadena, Pasadena, Glendale commuters are all more important than allowing children and other pedestrians crossing access.  LADoT actually came in one night and removed an unsignalized pedestrian crossing on Ave26/Daly between Pasadena and Brdway…but fortunately everyone got p…off and raised all sorts of H….and got them to put it back…but now they have installed a light to control the wayward pedestrians…They did the same to you…OBTW some NC stakeholders in the south SF Valley area have the same problems with LADoT commuter top the school crossing so LADoT will put a speed sign in to tell the commuters how fast they are going thru a school zone…real waste of money.  Tomas 

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