MyFigueroa Unveils New Designs: Promises Cycletracks, Transit Lanes and More for South Fig, MLK, and 11th

The future of South Figueroa at 11th Street? Doesn't seem far fetched now. Click on the image for a high-res copy.

The MyFigueroa team will be presenting all their images and renderings at the Andrew Norman Hall Orthopaedic Hospital at 5:30 pm on April 9th. Get the event details at the MyFigueroa website. Of course, we’ll be Live Streaming at Streetsblog TV. Bookmark our event page now.

It seems like just yesterday a team of Los Angeles’ most progressive planners and international planning rock stars from Gehl Architects unveiled some planning images showing how the rather bleak South Figueroa Corridor could be transformed into a complete street. While the public was “mostly positive,” it seemed a stretch that such a project would ever take place in Los Angeles.

In truth, it wasn’t yesterday. It was over two years ago. But despite some major hurdles, such as the minor issue of the dissolution of the Community Redevelopment Agency responsible for the project, the $20 million project should be completed on-time before the end of 2014.

The newly released images don’t look quite as dramatic as the ones shown a in 2011, but still promise bus only lanes, new transit waiting areas, fixed sidewalks, zebra crosswalks and the minor issue of separated bike lanes, proudly marked as “cycletracks” in MyFigueroa’s promotional materials.

“While our design still includes cycletracks on Fig, as we have always shown, we have more to share about the design of the entire corridor, and the multimodal components serving pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders,” writes Melani Smith, the president and principal of Melendrez Design Partners, the firm who has teh lead on the project. “We think there’s something in our design for all kinds of people using the streets.  Ultimately, we’re planning a corridor that is a safer, more comfortable place for people to be.”

The project isn’t just about improving Figueroa Street between 7th Street (in Downtown Los Angeles) and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard  (in South Los Angeles) by offering a full buffet of safe and comfortable transportation options. It also includes new streetscapes on 11th Street between Figueroa Street and Broadway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Figueroa Street and Vermont Avenue.

“I am thrilled that the pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders in Downtown and South Los Angeles are benefactors of the 2006 State of California bond measure that provides funding for the implementation of new infrastructure,” writes Deborah Murphy of Deborah Murphy Urban Design + Planning, another project partner. “The MyFigueroa! project supports the development of new housing, particularly affordable housing, in dense transit-oriented urban neighborhoods.”

Funding for the project comes from Proposition 1C funds, dedicated towards improving transportation and quality of life for residents of affordable housing. Despite the advanced design and secured funding, the project isn’t finalized yet. LADOT, the lead agency with the city, is completing and environmental study on the traffic impacts of the study. Under new legislation passed into law last year, the city does not need to complete a full CEQA review.

11th and Hope. Click on the image for a high-res version.

Along Figueroa Corridor, there are two different sections with different layouts. Between 7th and Exposition, the road is 82 feet wide for nearly three miles. South of Exposition, Figueroa shrinks to 67 feet for another mile. In this second stretch, the separated bike lane is replaced by a traditional bike lane as the parking buffer dissapears. The bike lane itself shrinks from eight feet to five feet in the same space. The number of traffic lanes also shrinks in the 67 foot section. North of Exposition the road design calls for five mixed use travel lanes. South of Exposition it’s down to four mixed use lanes and a bus only lane. The bus only lane provides a buffer of sorts for bike traffic heading south.

Along 11th street from Figueroa to Broadway, the existing two lanes of westbound one-way traffic will be shrunk to one lane.  The single remaining lane is designed for both the existing car traffic and the future L.A. Downtown Streetcar A one-way westbound bicycle facility will be provided on the street as well, and will be separated from moving traffic by a painted buffer. On the north side of the street, existing sidewalks will be expanded as possible, providing a much more generous pedestrian realm with planting and seating.

The improvements along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will be somewhat less dramatic, but will provided needed relief for pedestrians and transit riders in the under-supported area. Improvements will be made to the pedestrian zone on the north side of the street by repairing the paving, increasing pedestrian scale lighting and adding street trees.

On the south side of the street, the physical configuration of the sidewalk cannot be changed, but paving will be repaired and lighting improved as needed and possible. Transit waiting areas on both the north and south side of the street will be improved as needed, and to the extent that space constraints allow, and connections across the street facilitated by highly visible crosswalk striping.

In the weeks leading up to April 9th event, more and more details of the program will come out. As we mentioned above, we’ll be broadcasting the meeting on Streetsblog TV. We’re told the wi-fi isn’t the best at Andrew Norman Hall Orthopaedic Hospital, so we’ll repost all the raw footage on April 10.

Full disclosure: Deborah Murphy is a member of the Southern California Streets Initiative Board of Directors which oversees the funding and editorial content of Streetsblog Los Angeles.

  • It would be nice if that rendering of 11th St had the streetcar tracks too!

  • This “new” transit project looks great! Hopefully the timeline won’t be too inaccurate. Car traffic will still be terrible if it comes to fruition, but perhaps more people will sell their cars and use mass transit instead.
    Faster mass transit + increased vehicle traffic = higher ridership.

    Great article!

  • Alison Kendall

    Can’t wait for this long-awaited project to become a reality. It should really help provide better pedetrian, bike and transit connections to the USC campus from downtown and vice versa.

  • Anonymous

    8 foot, single direction, cycle tracks! Somebody gets it! This is what every arterial should have if you want to actually get people on bikes, instead of just talking about getting people on bikes. But wait, what is that picture at the top? It’s at 11th Street, so it’s in the 82 foot section, but that is definitely not an 8 foot wide cycle track. Does this mean the 8 foot wide cycle track gets bottle necked at every bus stop. Where else does this happen? Maybe somebody doesn’t get it.

  • Dennis Hindman

    If the safety for bicycling is reduced along portions of this project, then it will effectively make the whole route less attractive to ride on. When you raise the stress level for bicycling on any link in a route beyond what people will tolerate, then that makes the whole route too stressful to ride a bicycle on for them.

    Bicycle infrastructure always seems to have the most corners cut in the level of comfort and safety compared to traveling by walking or motor vehicles. The thought process seems to be ‘what space do we have left over for bicycles?’

  • Way to persevere Deborah!! Now to implement.

  • I agree with Dennis. Unfortunately, bicyclists are often viewed by many Angelenos as a nuisance as opposed to a benefit. Cycling eases congestion and has the potential to improve overall air quality.

  • ubrayj02

    They need to re-brand and make it “Fig 4 All” or #fig4all or Figueroa For All and so widen the scope beyond “MyFigueroa” and the insular mentality most Angelenos develop after so many long years stuck in the metal-hulled ships within which we sail from mall to mall.

    Steal the name a group of plucky neighbors developed for N. Figueroa and watch how the psychological map will be drawn across the 110 freeway – to allow us all to dream of a day when that blasted thing is re-purposed into a more normal street again. Or not. In either case, i like Figueroa 4 All better. It translates just as nicely into Spanish as Figueroa Por Todos.

  • Steven Johnson

    Mr. Newton,

    As a person who loves seeing proposed positive changes to a community in need of facelifts, the new proposal seems to be a well-balanced decision to give
    vehicles and pedestrians just the right amount of space. Given the new proposal for Figueroa Street with reduced traffic lanes and increased pedestrian and bicyclist participation your post reflects our city’s want to return to a
    transit-oriented development with people friendly streets. As a USC student,
    these proposed changes carry extra weight from Adams to Exposition, especially. Many students use Figueroa as our route to campus. Currently, Figueroa is an uninviting monstrosity challenging us on both foot and bicycle from the state of the sidewalks to the non-existence of a bike lane. With the estimated ten thousand plus bicycles around USC there is not only a need but also a necessity to have a dedicated, protected bicycle lane along Figueroa. We are relegated to share the sidewalk with pedestrians, which is a challenge for all parties involved in our multiple near collisions on the way to and from campus. Looking back upon the 2011 plan, is it known whether either of these plans was or is endorsed by the university? Knowing the influence of USC in the community, is there any known connection between the proposed plan and the university’s continually changing Master Plan? As with any proposal in the city of Los Angeles, it will be put to the test and either be cut up and divided or
    negatively positioned from city lobbyists all hoping to get a piece of the
    project. However, this plan, as opposed to the 2011 plan, has a more hopeful
    chance of approval and I hope it receives the needed funding from a
    near-bankrupt city. Los Angeles needs substantial infrastructure upgrades and
    this proposal is more than “lipstick on a pig” in so far as repairing the
    street’s potholes, traffic problems, and sidewalk repairs.

    Los Angeles was awarded $118 million in Proposition C funding from the State of California and this project will use $20 million of the funds. This will increase
    its chances of passing the approval stage and with new legislation passed by
    the city last year, the proposal does not have to undergo a full California
    Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review. As pointed out early on in your post,
    the California Redevelopment Agency was dissolved and funding for the original
    project was shelved in 2011. Most of us in the planning realm believed, at the
    time, the CRA dissolution would halt private and public partnerships for
    redevelopment efforts but its dissolution has forced projects to be one’s of
    necessity, not frivolity. Money must be spent more carefully and that is a good
    long-term prospect for projects across California. As we look forward to the
    next 18 months along Figueroa, I hope your blog keeps a keen eye on this
    project and helps to push the proposal forward. It will have profound economic
    and demographic changes in the area and will help the city’s cultural
    connection with destinations of interest and create a safer environment for all
    parties involved. We at USC are happy about the proposal and want them sooner rather than later.

  • Thank you for your long and detailed project. Several of us at Streetsblog believe this project to be a crucial one and want to see it carried forward. I know USC has been involved with the project, but I do not know to what extent they have endorsed, or not, the project as a whole.

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