City Begins Process of Improving Lincoln Boulevard Bridge Over Ballona Creek

The New Lincoln Blvd. Bridge? All images via Westside Mobility Forum.

The New Lincoln Blvd. Bridge? All images via Westside Mobility Plan.

When trying to decide whether or not the City of Los Angeles is serious about becoming a safe and inviting place to walk or ride a bicycle, it’s easy to look at the largest projects, such as MyFigueroa! or the Hyperion Bridge re-design, or the statistics. But, its equally important to look at some of the smaller projects that can improve mobility for all road users in an area, such as the newly announced project to improve the Lincoln Blvd. bridge over the Ballona Creek.

The current look of the bridge.

The current look of the bridge.

The LADOT and Councilmember Mike Bonin are enthusiastically promoting The Westside Mobility Plan (WMP), a collaborative effort between the councilmember department, and community groups. The plan includes a project to turn the bridge, a major choke point for any cyclist or pedestrian moving north or south on Lincoln Boulevard, into one more hospitable for all road users. The Lincoln Bridge Mutli-Modal Corridor Plan would widen the surface design of the bridge without increasing the structure’s footprint into the Ballona Creek.

On Wednesday, the WMP received approval from the City Council Transportation Committee to begin public outreach for the proposed project to get community feedback before moving the project to the design phase. The current graphics for the project, including the above one, are just concept designs.

Wide sidewalks, bicycle lanes and even a transit-only lane are all being considered for the project. While neither Metro nor LADOT is planning to add light rail or bus rapid transit to the bridge anytime soon, there are regular Metro bus routes that run over the bridge today.

“What we’re hoping to do here is improve traffic flow and make things easier and better for bicyclists and pedestrians,” explains Bonin. “In the last century it would have been a mega widening.”

When Caltrans looked at the bridge in 2001, the state’s road paving agency proposed widening Lincoln Boulevard from Jefferson to Fiji Boulevard from two mixed-use lanes in each direction to four lanes. Instead of widening the bridge, Caltrans decided the best course of action would be to build another bridge over the environmentally important Ballona Creek.

The Westside Mobility Plan study area.

The Westside Mobility Plan study area.

In the resolution authorizing the new study, it notes, “The Coastal Commission and the community wisely rejected the proposal.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again,” joked Bonin introducing the motion authorizing the project.

With Caltrans’ first plan dead and buried for a decade, the City Council approved a contract amendment to the Westside Mobility Plan adding a site specific analysis for a Lincoln Bridge Improvement Feasibility study in 2012. The Council  directed the Westside Mobility Plan consultant team to examine opportunities to improve pedestrian facilities, bicycle facilities, center running Bus Rapid Transit or Light Rail Transit facilities and minimize the impact to the Ballona Creek.

The budget for the project exceeds $3 million. Bonin reports that funds could come from Metro’s Call for Projects, once the design is approved by the surrounding community and the City Council.

The plan is being led by Fehr and Peers, one of the more progressive consulting transportation consulting firms in California.