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

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BOE continues to used outdated LOS metrics to justify to designing a bridge for traffic volumes that 20th Century engineers predicted, but even then failed to materialize.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

  • Not Gary Lee Moore

    If option 3 was never considered a viable option does that mean the CAC was formed just a muzzle advocates? Also, if BOE and CD13 both agree it was not a viable option does that mean there weren’t actual options to choose from? That sounds mildly illegal to me– to present options that are not actual options that can be picked. Also, what happened to simply saving the sidewalk? Would rather they widen the western sidewalk, keep the eastern sidewalk as is, and not incorporate bike lanes.

  • Not Gary Lee Moore

    Let us know when/where we can contribute to a kickstarter for lawsuit! Let’s do it. We know how council votes, this will sail through as long as Tom “Tonka Truck” LaBonge is in office.

  • ubrayj02

    The BoE only used their LOS grades. The difference between LOS C and LOS E on a signalized intersection can be as little as 20 seconds. 20 seconds of additional delay in the TWENTY FORTY is pretty damn good.

    Also of note, nobody from the public used the EIS/EIR documents own engineering analysis during the construction phase, when the bridge will only have 3 lanes. This analysis concluded that traffic numbers are so low (9,000 cars each way per day) that 3 lanes would have NO IMPACT on traffic. This is a big reason why the Mitigated Negative Declaration was submitted and not an EIR.

    The same team that made that analysis can’t come back with this bogus 2040 number and make that traffic volume our design target and not look like dumbasses. We should have pointed that out.

    Here is a poorly formatted table of LOS delay times:
    LOS Signalized Intersection Unsignalized Intersection
    A ≤10 sec ≤10 sec
    B 10–20 sec 10–15 sec
    C 20–35 sec 15–25 sec
    D 35–55 sec 25–35 sec
    E 55–80 sec 35–50 sec
    F ≥80 sec ≥50 sec

  • michael macdonald

    How was anybody to point out this discrepancy when the BOE presented this new information after public comment that had not before seen the light of day?

    Reference to previous traffic engineering analysis made its way into LACBC’s, Ramsay’s, & Ryu’s letters submitted to the Board. This wasn’t an issue of not having all the information on the table.

  • Jake Bloo

    So, like, pedestrians are going to die crossing? RIght? Like, it’s gonna happen. Just a matter of time. And then who is going to take the blame?

    It makes me furious to know that at some point a kid walking home from school is going to get hit running across traffic.

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Lip Service defined. “Vision Zero” “Complete Streets” “Sustainability” “Great Streets” “Walkability” –All just catch phrases with only the slightest of real support from Mayor Eric Garcetti or Council Member Mitch O’Farrell. Road Diets are dead in this city. Once again, pedestrians are relegated to the lowest caste of our society, and motorized travel is prioritized. Yes, lets revitalize the LA River! Let’s make Great Streets! But whatever you do, don’t ever, never, dare try to limit automobile convenience for the sake of safety and people who want to or have to walk.

  • None

    Seriously Board of Public Works!! I know some of you are bicyclists too! You were informed and decided to ignore the 100% community opposition to this option. Are you deaf?!?! SHAME ON YOU!!! NO REALLY, SHAME ON YOU… People will die and it is your responsibility. You won’t care but it is your fault!

  • Atwater

    Look who is on the board? All worthless political appointees without commitment to their communities…What do you expect?

    They know better and vote the wrong way to line their pockets with money for the sake of politics.

  • michael macdonald

    Maybe L.A. just isn’t a livable streets city.

  • Certainly Not Gary Lee More ;)

    If the Vision Hyperion group can get a minimum $10 donation from every person, business, and non-profit that signed the petition we’d be playing a very different game. We need to raise the money and back the right candidates, it’s getting down to that.

  • Ditch Mitch 2017

    You all see what happened here right? They lied to us about the funding deadline, they lied to us about being open to what the public wanted. The aim was just to tire people out hoping that we didnt have the energy to make the case for what we wanted. We played their game, won, and they still did what they wanted. Fuck voting, fuck relationships, fuck petitions, the only way is through lawsuits. And if you dont have the money for a lawsuit then heckle everything.

  • Manfred Mannarchist

    Nuclear option doesn’t look so bad in retrospect, does it?

  • Joe Linton

    There are additional hearings – before council

  • 1976boy

    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.”

    So the voices that are pro-car carry more weight than others? How is it that they heard them load and clear but they can’t hear the advocates for better pedestrian safety?

  • Sorry to see so many of you wake up to the reality. You’ve been duped by the pols who prance about and chant about “sustainability” but at the end of the day you are back in Gil Garcetti’s Woody with Eric trying to get an ice cream in the Valley. That’s the mindset of the “leadership” here. Accept it.

  • David Holtzman

    Speed cameras are unAmerican.

  • Lois Arkin

    Seems like if our dear Mayor really wants our Great Streets to be great, it’s time that some heads roll out of the way at the BOE!

  • Manfred Mannarchist

    If O’Farrell thinks you can hurt his career, he can hear you just fine. If he doesn’t, he can’t hear you at all. Did you ever really think he was any better than the rest of them?

  • LAifer

    Ya know what?? Screw it. Just remove a car lane in both directions, put up cycle tracks, and widen the sidewalks even more. Let’s call it Option “LA.” If they’re not gonna listen to us when all that happens is one lane of car traffic gets removed (at no expense to traffic flows), then just keep going and recommend removing a lane in each direction (like the original bridge before it got striped for two lanes in each direction).

    The only “real” retrofit is one that gives adequate space and crossing access for all modes in all directions. And if we really care about “sustainability,” “Great Streets,” the “pLAn,” “Vision Zero,” etc. etc., just remove a lane of car travel lane in both directions, expand the sidewalks, add bike lanes, and be done with it already.

  • ubrayj02

    Fair point. I think my frustration with hearing yet another baloney engineering argument for ignoring the needs of non-motorized transportation, an argument in this case which doesn’t even respect its own industry practices, got me fired up about a rebuttal.

  • ubrayj02

    If the fire has gone out on this issue, and we’re only going to wage the battle in meetings setup and run by people making a living to be in those meetings we can expect the 1-sidewalk option to win.

    The way forward here is simple: make life hell for those who’ve opposed Option 3.

    We need a march on someones office, maybe O’Farrell? Maybe LaBonge? Email the local blogs and city desk reporters about it so they can come and get photos.

    There are enough people in the Vision Hyperion group that a coordinated blog post spree and Facebook posting flood will cause a ripple.

    For me, I am unsure as to when to phase the disruptive media message and who to direct it at. The full council? The two council members in charge of the area? CalTrans?

    This is a conspiracy between multiple agencies and leaders to ignore the broad coalition built around Option 3.

    Breaking that up, finding a weak spot to force someone to change their mind might have to extend into totally unrelated matters – so that we have some leverage to make their situation uncomfortable if they don’t respect the will of the people.

  • Manfred Mannarchist

    O’Farrell is new at the scumbag game that LaBonge has been playing for years. He’s got to have weak spots.

  • aardvark

    Seriously, WTF is wrong with this city and government…

  • neroden

    Removing the sidewalk should trigger full environmental review. It’s a change with substantial deleterious consequences for the environment.

    I suggest that someone should file a lawsuit and get this project thrown out due to lack of NEPA/CEQA compliance.

  • neroden

    If Vision Hyperion decides to sue over the NEPA and CEQA violations, I’ll throw them a C-note, and I don’t even live in California.


Who Do We Blame for the Next Death on the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge?

In a unanimous 11-0 vote, the Los Angeles City Council approved the city Bureau of Engineering’s (BOE) single-sidewalk pedestrian-killer design for the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. Though the item was not approved at the Public Works Committee last week, the City Council approved the item today with no public comment, after brief misleading characterizations by Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell. […]

Eyes on the Bridge: What Glendale-Hyperion’s Missing Sidewalk Means

Above is a graphic created by Don Ward to show just how crappy the Bureau of Engineering’s Glendale-Hyperion Bridge plan is. The unsafe design was recently approved by L.A.’s Board of Public Works, and will soon come before City Council. Streetsblog USA profiled the board’s approval as a sign that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s commitment to great […]

Can LA Make “Great Streets” If the Mayor Won’t Stand Up for Good Design?

Los Angeles, with its expanding transit network, is supposed to be in the process of shedding its cocoon of car-centricity and emerging, in the words of a recent Fast Company headline, as America’s “next great walkable city.” The city’s streets, however, didn’t change a whole lot under former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. When Eric Garcetti was elected mayor in 2013, advocates thought […]

O’Farrell Backs More Study of Potential Designs for Hyperion Bridge, Promises Citizen’s Advisory Committee

Mitch O'Farrell Letter, Hyperion Bridge Count City Council Member Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the Silver Lake Community on one side the the Hyperion Bridge, as one of the elected officials concerned with the current design proposed by the City’s Bureau of Engineering (BoE) and the State Department of Transportation (Caltrans). As Streetsblog has covered extensively, […]