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.