Public Works Committee Sends Unsafe Glendale-Hyperion Bridge Design To Full Council

L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge testifying against a safer Glendale-Hyperion Bridge at today's Public Works meeting. On right, committee members Joe Buscaino and Curren Price. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge testifying against a safer Glendale-Hyperion Bridge at today’s Public Works meeting. On right, committee members Joe Buscaino and Curren Price. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The city of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering’s (BOE) sidewalk-deficient Glendale-Hyperion Bridge design was heard today in the L.A. City Council’s Public Works Committee. As at the earlier Public Works Board hearing, the BOE trotted out dire Level of Service predictions and threats that the city would lose $50 million if the project is delayed. Councilmember Tom LaBonge and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s staff spoke in favor of BOE’s unsafe design, and against a road diet option that BOE’s earlier traffic predictions had shown was feasible.

Public testimony strongly favored the road diet option. Numerous speakers appeared to be setting the stage for a possible lawsuit, alledging lack of compliance with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental justice provisions. Most compelling though was courageous testimony from Caltrans engineer Dale Benson. Benson clarified that Caltrans was not in favor of any specific option, but his statements seemed to call into question the BOE’s dire predictions of immediate funding loss for any delay.

Committee members present, Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Curren Price, spoke of having to struggle with being “under the gun for approval” for the inadequate sidewalk option being pushed by BOE, even as the city just settled a multi-billion dollar lawsuit over failing to meet disability requirements for sidewalks.

Ultimately both Price and Buscaino decided not to approve the bridge item, but to send it to the full City Council with no recommendation. Given councilmembers’ practice of deferring to each other for matters located within a specific council district, the Public Works Committee’s non-approval is unlikely to get in the way of Councilmembers LaBonge and O’Farrell prevailing when the item is heard in council, expected to be next Tuesday June 9.

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