The Victory Boulevard That Could Have Been
On Wednesday evening, I received a phone call from my sister-in-law. She was calling because she noticed that the road right outside her driveway was re-striped and she thought the outline could change the road from a four-lane arterial street with left hand turn lanes to a two-lane street with bike lanes on either side and a bus-only lane down the middle.
My brother and his wife live on Victory Boulevard on the west side of Shoup Ave, mere feet from where Victory Boulevard recently had its speed limits raised because people were speeding there. After my call from the Valley, my first thought was that the LADOT had finally figured out the best way to maintain current speed limits wasn’t to count on the dysfunctional Assembly Transportation Committee and its car-loving Chairman to change the state law that allows speeders to set the speed limit, but to design roads that encourage people to drive more conservatively and open up the road to all users.
For those not familiar with the area, let me paint a picture. Victory Boulevard is basically a four lane highway that cuts Woodland Hills into two pieces. Near Shoup Boulevard is a gigantic, and expanding mall surrounded by acres of parking lots. Treatments for the road that are on the book include pedestrian over passes, a sure sign that the road is inhospitable to pedestrians. Remaking Victory Boulevard into a complete street would be a major victory for Livable Streets.
Not shockingly, the LADOT confirmed my suspicion that the new paint isn’t an indicator of a new and better design for Victory. Instead of slowed traffic, bike lanes and better pedestrian accommodations we’ll have the same speeded-up traffic we see today. There’s no bus-only lane planned for Victory Boulevard, unless we’re talking about the one in Staten Island.
I’m sure some people reading this story had to think me crazy that a road such a Victory could go under such a large change. Last summer the Woodland Hills-Warner Center Neighborood Council held a Saturday series called "Destiny in the Valley" where planners and Caltrans professionals outlined what would be a "Great Street" for Valley roads. The Victory Boulevard of my dreams sounds awfully similar to the "Great Street" described by local Caltrans Director Doug Failing.
But, for a couple of hours I was able to think that a new, safe and multi-modal Victory Boulevard might be on its way.