Count City Council Member Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the Silver Lake Community on one side the the Hyperion Bridge, as one of the elected officials concerned with the current design proposed by the City’s Bureau of Engineering (BoE) and the State Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
As Streetsblog has covered extensively, the City of Los Angeles and Caltrans have federal funds in hand to seismically retrofit the Hyperion Bridge. While the bridge itself is not being widened, the design of the traffic lanes will change. An initial design showed a sidewalk being removed, crash barriers being installed and the through travel lanes being widened to fourteen feet. When the design became public, many bicyclists and street safety advocates rose up, arguing that the bridge restriping be in a “complete streets” mode including narrow mixed-use lanes and bicycle lanes.
Council Member O’Farrell is perceived as a strong backer of the project and the original design, in part because he appeared in a video with Council Member Tom LaBonge, who represents the other side of the bridge, and Mayor Eric Garcetti promoting the $50 million project. However, recent a recent public comment letter shows the Council Member concerned about the re-striping and sidewalk elimination and making a promise to create a citizen’s advisory committee.
…I want to express my willingness to explore options that include dedicated bicycle facilities on the Hyperion and Glendale sections, modifications to traffic lane widths as currently proposed, a signalized crosswalk that would span the entire width of the bridge, the removal of the center median barrier and/or alternative placement of the 3-ft. roadway-edge crash barriers…
…To that end, as the proposed project progresses, I will continue to engage community stakeholders and will form a citizen’s advisory group to ensure accountability and transparency in the design process.
Of course, a citizen’s advisory committee doesn’t guarantee that the voices on that committee will be heard, but O’Farrell’s letter is certainly a sign that opinion on the bridge replacement project is turning. It now seems more a matter of how the original design will be improved rather than if the design will be improved.