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.

  • Local Biker

    Thanks Mike Bonin! I ride from Mar Vista to Westchester using the Ballona Path every day, commuting to work. The bridge is less than comfortable for bicyclists and cars love to speed both directions on Lincoln. I appreciate the efforts here.

  • Mike

    I cross this bridge a few times a month, it’s always very uncomfortable so I’m glad they’re working to improve it. But they also need to look into expanding the bike lane to go all the way to Marina Del Rey. Currently the lane stops due to the narrow overpass of Culver Blvd.

  • Needs more 8-80

    Redesign of bridge and all we get is a lame thin bike lane not physically separated from speeding traffic? This is not designed by anyone who wants more families to ride bikes.

  • That is Phase II of the project. The consultants mentioned that in their presentation to the City Council but I was saving it for a larger story on the larger Westside Mobility Plan. But you sussed it out of me :)

  • Roadblock

    whats that train line in the photos? looks like they are widening to 6 car lanes and disguising two of them as a train line? when will that train line get built? 35 years from now? meanwhile Lincoln will be transformed more into that freeway they been creeping in for decades now… “we intend to plan a train route, but until then here is a freeway.”

  • Roadblock

    4 lanes to 8 lanes and barely a whisper of bike lanes. at least there is a sidewalk on both sides.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    If they make it a bus-only lane for now, then that’s an important first step. The fact that buses have to wait in traffic caused by cars is one of the most undemocratic features of our roads right now. There will almost certainly some day be an upgrade of the transit line down Lincoln – whether it will be an increase in bus frequency, or a rail line, or whatever, doesn’t really matter. In preparation for that, it’s important to have space for transit.

    (I’d probably be sympathetic to a call to take away a car lane for that purpose, but adding a transit lane should be fine, as long as they really enforce it, and don’t let it turn into another car lane.)

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Although looking at the image again, it looks like 6 car lanes IN ADDITION to the 2 transit lanes. That’s certainly not good.

  • Mike

    Good to hear..I look forward to your story!

  • Needs more 8-80

    Ah yes, 3 car lanes in each direction with the narrowest bike lane and a fat median/transit lane. It can be just like Venice Blvd, Eagle Rock Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd… all terrible streets for walking and biking due to the speed and volume of car traffic. I guess the only good part is that at some point in the future that third lane can be removed to allocate more space for bikes.

    I see no reason for streetsblog to celebrate any project that gives cars more than two lanes in each direction.

  • davistrain

    I attend musical events at Brennan’s Pub a few blocks south of Washington on Lincoln Blvd. I’ve told my friends in the band that it would be really cool to take a train to the pub, but I think it’s in the “I should live so long” category.

  • B la

    If fehr and peers are progressive, the bar must be really really low.

  • andrelot

    buses are an inferior form of public transportation to trains, no capital funds should be spent on infrastructure to buses, and all capital investment of public transit should go toward rail/light rail/subways

  • HighNoon

    There are segments of the streets (i.e. SM Bl in WeHo and ER Bl in ER) that are very pleasant to walk. Travel speeds on SM Bl are not very high during peak commuting hours.

  • mark vallianatos

    Keep two car lanes each direction and make the bike lanes cycletracks next to expanded sidewalks. Three car travel lanes each direction is an invitation for cars to weave and speed

  • Kenny Easwaran

    I don’t understand. Are you saying that if we plan to run a rail line somewhere in a few decades, and one of the bridges along the way is being redone in the meantime, that we *shouldn’t* put in a transit lane if buses might use it before the rest of the train line is designed and built?

  • adad12

    I bicycle commute every day over this bridge and this stretch of Lincoln Blvd is by far the MOST dangerous – of any of my rides anywhere. This is unfortunate because there is NO alternative other than to go miles away to the beach path or all the way to Sepulveda. Two lanes with cycle tracks would be ideal plus bike lanes plus bike lanes north to Fiji Way from the bridge. Something needs to be done ASAP.

  • Needs more 8-80

    Right, should have been specific, where these streets are three lanes in each direction they are very bad for walking and biking.

  • andrelot

    Leave a grass median instead before rail is built.

  • Irwin Chen

    I ride over this bridge several times a week so this has been a very personal crusade for a while. I’m glad to see Mike Bonin taking the initiative now to get something done.

    If I read the article correctly, the plan is to not change the footprint of the bridge, which means the illustration is somewhat misleading. I don’t think you can add that many traffic lane without increasing the footprint of bridge support in the creek.

    I’m hoping that the project will include a cycle track (this is the ideal place for it). And of course the phase 2 of the project should see bike lane and sidewalk extended north to Fiji Way. It is currently a literal deadzone there. Several people are killed every year walking or biking between Fiji Way and Ballona Creek. We are averaging about 1 death every 2 months… it is one of the deadliest stretch of road on the West side.

  • Scott

    Safety issue too on northbound Lincoln at Fiji way – watch out for the cavernous pavement in front of the gas station it will grab your wheels if not careful. The bridge improvements will be huge – thank you CD15 for putting this on the radar.

  • roadblock

    yes sir.

  • MaxUtil

    Buses are “inferior to trains” if you assume that there are zero differences in the cost to build, maintain, operate, adapt/change service, etc. Don’t confuse technology with service. The point of transit is to provide mobility and buses often do that better.

  • David_Ewing

    The bridge will be wider. It’s the footprint of the bridge in Ballona Creek that will remain the same. In other words, the supports won’t have a bigger footprint.

  • Stephan

    I think this is a fantastic step! It’s amazing to me that some people are more interested in preserving a concrete wash than caring for people’s lives and safety. Los Angeles and especially the Westside are becoming more pedestrian and cyclist friendly and it’s about time that we consider their needs as a community. I bike across this bridge as an individual and with my family regularly and am constantly in fear of our lives. I hope this gets approved soon! Thanks!

  • Brian

    How about dedicated bike/pedestrian bridge near Alla or McConnell like the one near Culver Middle School over the creek? Would give great access to the new Playa Vista mall (this would eliminate a lot of driving!) and be so much safer than Lincoln.

  • Joe

    Still a disaster, still a death trap to even think about crossing. Still completely cuts off two areas from anyone outside of a car. Still 0 progress. Typical LA.

  • how about not letting the developers screw up the area. how about people not using their garages as rentals. I have lived here for 25 years and watched the community get screwed up. Playa vista never should have happened. Now you have a bunch of self entitled jerk offs thinking that since they payed a lot of money for there houses or condos, they own the rode.

  • VALLEY GO HOME.

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