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Public Works Board Approves Sidewalk Deficient Glendale-Hyperion Bridge

Members of the Glendale Hyperion Bridge Community Advisory Committee, city staff, and elected officials walk the bridge during their final meeting on August 7. Photo: Don Ward
Public Works to Glendale-Hyperion Bridge pedestrians: drop dead.  Bridge committee, city staff, and officials walking there in 2014. Photo: Don Ward
Members of the Glendale Hyperion Bridge Community Advisory Committee, city staff, and elected officials walk the bridge during their final meeting on August 7. Photo: Don Ward

In a hearing at City Hall this morning, the mayor-appointed Board of Public Works unanimously approved proceeding with the city Bureau of Engineering's (BOE) recommendation to eliminate one of two sidewalks on its Glendale-Hyperion Bridge retrofit project. The latest version, announced earlier this week, has not changed significantly since 2013 when BOE pushed a similar unsafe design, leading to a backlash, and the formation of an advisory committee to re-think the dangerous design.

Despite both traffic studies and the advisory committee favoring full safe sidewalks, Los Angeles City staff have continued to recommend a design that keeps the bridge unsafe for drivers and fails to accommodate pedestrian traffic.

Councilmember Tom LaBonge attended the hearing to dig his heels in against elimination of a single car lane. Ironically, he also pressed for automated enforcement cameras to be added to the bridge to solve speeding problems.

Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell was considered to be more open to a less car-centric design, but today his staff stated that the council office had "heard loud and clear" that their constituents don't want fewer car lanes and further that the road diet Option 3, the option that had sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, "had never been a viable option."

More than 40 stakeholders showed up to testify in favor of full sidewalks on the bridge. Nonetheless, the BOE, using discredited Level of Service (LOS) metrics and different traffic studies than what had been shared with the project advisory committee, held sway saying that fewer car lanes would trigger a full environmental review. BOE recommended that the current four car lanes would need to remain in place in order for the city to skirt full environmental review by just approving its current Mitgated Negative Declaration (MND).

BOE continues to used outdated LOS metrics to justify to designing a bridge for traffic volumes that 20th Century engineers predicted, but even then failed to materialize.

The Garcetti-appointed Board of Public Works claimed the fig leaf of bike lanes on the future bridge, despite the pedestrian-deadly design as a "compromise" but the design is less safe for everyone. The safety needs of people who travel on foot are the only ones being compromised.

There are a few more decision points to come before work proceeds on the project. It will be heard in council committee and at the full city council in the coming weeks. BOE officials expect to finalize approvals by June 30 and proceed with the single-sidewalk design which is expected to be finalized by June 2017.

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