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.

  • Nick

    God Mitch O’Farrel is a pseudo progressive. He presides over the bicycle and pedestrian capitol of Los Angeles and he cant get it together to nurture that. How old is he? he’s still in the wrong century.

  • Fuq Que Bridge Trolls

    Awesome that a Cal Trans Official exposed the lies and fearmongering perpetrated by Jim Treadaway Shirley Lau, Deborah Weintraub and the rest of the BOE. The reality? The funds at risk are peanuts. Something like $20k. Even if it’s 500k its still disingenuous for these bridge trolls to go around scaring all the council members.

  • Not Gary Lee Moore

    Just throwing some spaghetti on the wall, are any of these reasonable grounds to sue on?

    1) Historic features are being restored on the bridge and disabled people are losing access to the bridge’s belvederes on the east side. “Under Title III, public entities are not required to make each
    of their existing facilities accessible; as long as persons with
    disabilities have “equal access” to the goods and services provided to
    persons without disabilities.”

    http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/hdm/pdf/english/chp0100.pdf

    2) The elected officials and engineers are favoring an option that adds as much as 7 minutes to a trip made by disabled people when there is an option that would make travel easier for disabled people.

    3) LA Times: “Caltrans settles lawsuit over disabled access”

    “In addition, Caltrans agreed to upgrade existing curb ramps that do not
    comply with access laws, and to install curb ramps where needed when
    existing roads are resurfaced or reconstructed. Similarly, Caltrans must
    comply with state and federal access laws for new construction and
    provide temporary pedestrian routes around those sites that can be used
    by everyone….They alleged that Caltrans had violated the 1990 Americans with
    Disabilities Act, a federal law that requires improvements in
    accessibility whenever sidewalks or other pedestrian facilities are
    built or undergo major repairs.”

    http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/23/local/la-me-caltrans23-2009dec23

    4) Point Reyes Light: “Historic Point Reyes bridge to be replaced, Caltrans says”

    “Regardless of which alternative is chosen, a new bridge will meet modern
    design standards: two 12-foot lanes, four-foot shoulders on each side,
    six-foot sidewalks and wheelchair-accessible ramps at the sidewalks.
    (The Green Bridge has 11-foot lanes, no shoulders, a four-foot sidewalk
    and no disability access.) ”

    http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/historic-point-reyes-bridge-be-replaced-caltrans-says

    5) “Specifically, Caltrans’ role is to ensure that all new and existing altered facilities such as,but not limited to highway rest area facilities, sidewalks, pedestrian cross walks, pedestrian over-passes, under-passes and ramps shall be made accessible to disabled persons in accordance with federal and state (the state should provide equal or greater accessibility)standards on all local agency federal-aid projects meeting the criteria for the ADA compliance as explained below.”

    http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LocalPrograms/lam/prog_p/ch11-2012-10-05.pdf

    6) Aesthetics. They did not consider aesthetics regarding access to views from the belvederes in the Mitigated Negative Declaration. Not only are they denying access to unique vistas to disabled persons, but the bridge bridge was built with two sidewalks.

    “The purpose of the Aesthetics section is to identify and evaluate key visual resources in the project area, and to determine the degree of visual impact that would be attributable to a proposed project. Further, the analysis should identify key visual resources that warrant consideration in subsequent plans, so as to ensure, where possible, that the integrity of the landscape and built environment is maintained. ”

    http://www.ucop.edu/ceqa-handbook/chapter_03/3.3.html

    From Caltrans’ analysis “Although portions of the improvements to the pedestrian amenities would remove the sidewalks,and as a result some original fabric, the work would not have an adverse effect on the structure. ————->> Defining elements (pylons, belvederes, etc.) of the complex would not be affected by the proposed work, <<——- and the overall intent of the design, allowing pedestrian access across the viaduct complex,would be maintained with the widened sidewalk on the southbound side of Hyperion Avenue."

    Aren't they lying? a defining element of the complex would most definitely be affected if disabled people lose access to belvederes. They would still be accessible by people on bikes, but not to pedestrians.

    http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/Glendale-Hyperion_IS-EA.pdf

    Please take legal action, and rally the ADA-rights community.

  • Jake Bloo

    Thanks for the great research!

  • LAifer

    I think he’s just responding to a very vocal constituency. The people opposed to Option 3 have done some excellent organizing, and they’ve been loud. O’Farrell seems more afraid to take a strong stance in either direction here than he seems pegged in the wrong century.

    Don’t forget that two years ago this bridge retrofit included NO bike lanes and the one sidewalk. O’Farrell thinks he’s getting it both ways with the added bike lanes and keeping the four car lanes. He need to hear it even louder from his constituents that Option 3 is the better choice.

  • Artisinal Takesmith

    …which is another way of saying he’s a pseudo-progressive.

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