New LADOT GM Reynolds First Transportation Committee Meeting Report

xxxxx Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds at her first Transportation Committee meeting. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Seleta Reynolds started last Monday, August 11, as the General Manager of the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT.) Reynolds made her first GM report to the city council’s Transportation Committee yesterday, though she had already appeared before the committee during her confirmation process. Reynolds had championed pedestrian safety as a manager at San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency before accepting Mayor Garcetti’s invitation to lead LADOT.

Transportation Committee Chair Councilmember Mike Bonin has made no secret of his early enthusiasm for Reynolds, including using social media to share Reynolds’ informative recent interview at The Planning Report.

Reynolds’ verbal report to the committee was brief. She has been GM for two and a half days, and stated that she is in the listening and learning mode.

Reynolds greeted the five councilmembers in attendance – Bonin, Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian, Tom LaBonge, and Bernard Parks – stating that she wants to better understand their transportation concerns, and “to tour each of your districts, preferably by foot or by bike.”

Reynolds went on to mention that she was pleased with the recent announcement of recommendations for California’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) funding, which goes to facilities and programs for bicycling and walking. She praised LADOT’s work in securing over $22 million in grants for “improving safety and mobility in the city.” 

After finishing her report, Reynolds did not dash off, but stuck around for the entire meeting.

Much of the remainder of the meeting focused on LADOT’s lack of promptness in striping streets after resurfacing. The city’s Bureau of Street Services crews repave streets, after which LADOT crews paint stripes, crosswalks, and other markings. Councilmembers questioned LADOT Assistant General Manager Selwyn Hollins as to why the “street goes black” and, for weeks, “there’s no nothing” in terms of striping.

Hollins cited tight budgets, resulting in unfilled positions and a “workload demand beyond our ability to keep pace,” meaning that DOT has to “burn a lot of overtime” to meet the department’s goal of striping within 10 days. But Hollins also admitted that LADOT still tracks striping work on paper, and is only now implementing an automated work order system. 

As budget-hawk Krekorian pressed Hollins to do more with less, Seleta Reynolds stepped up from the audience and sat next to Hollins at the speakers’ table. When asked how San Francisco handles striping work, Reynolds responded that the situation there is fundamentally different, due to factors including bond funding.

Reynolds has inherited a hard-working department that faces multiple challenges, including austere budgets and a changing transportation landscape. While it is encouraging to see Reynolds’ clear enthusiasm for safety and for active transportation, she may need to first devote a lot of energy toward getting LADOT’s house in order. 

  • AcrossLA

    If she’s good enough for Bonin, she’s good enough to me. Welcome to Los Angeles.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Listening to the city staff in this meeting describe the different crews and steps to resurface, stripe and install loop detectors on a street was a fascinating lesson in how bureaucracy works.

    My understanding of how this work is done from what I have observed for several street resurfacing’s and various staff reports in the meeting:

    First a crew scrapes off the old concrete or asphalt surface, and another crew comes along days later to lay down the asphalt.

    Days later, a crew marks out where the striping will go.

    At least a couple of weeks later a crew puts down the white stripes, and another crew installs the yellow stripe with another machine.

    There are two white striping machines. One is inoperable and the other can be out of operation for up to a week. If that happens, then the crew works overtime to catch up with the backlog of work.

    If there is a buffered bike lane installation, then an additional crew comes along days later to put down the short white lines that connect the longer buffered bike lane markings and presumably this crew also installs the markings designating it as a bike lane.

    Wait, the procedures are not finished yet!

    Another crew comes along days later to install the loop detectors that detect motor vehicles for the traffic signals.

    The whole procedure of resurfacing a street in LA can easily take over a month from beginning to end.

    Here’s a video of a two-lane road and two bike lanes getting resurfaced by a private contractor in a much more coordinated manner on a street in the Netherlands:

    http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/rolling-out-a-red-carpet-for-cyclists/

    There is a asphalt laying machine for each lane. Two for the black asphalt motor vehicle lanes and two for the red asphalt bike lanes. There are also four rolling machines to tamp down the surface. The whole process is done very quickly.

    A big problem with the way streets are resurfaced in Los Angeles is that each of the steps are done on different days. The process of resurfacing one street should be a much more intensive and coordinated effort to get it finished in a shorter amount of time.

  • tony365

    lets just be happy for the f-ing bike lanes,

  • BC

    That attitude will get us exactly nowhere.

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