Vision Hyperion: Advocates Sue City Claiming Inadequate Study of Bridge Redesign

Don Ward at today's press conference. Photo: Damien Newton
Don Ward at today’s press conference. Photo: Damien Newton

Flanked by community and safe streets advocates holding signs reading “Save Our Sidewalk” and “Safe Streets 4 All,” Don Ward leaned into a microphone to announce the battle over the redesign of the Glendale-Hyperion series of bridges was not over just because the City Council has given the project a green light.

“This morning, we are announcing legal action to defend the community against the City’s rushed and ill-conceived approval of an unsafe design for the Hyperion Avenue Viaduct,” Ward stated.

“The project approved by the City Council last month fails to provide safe access to everyone who uses the bridge and falls short of the City’s vision of promoting safe, walkable, and bikeable neighborhoods.”

The lawsuit, which will be formally filed on Thursday, challenges the city’s approval of a “Negative Declaration” for the project. Basically, based on studies performed by the City Bureau of Engineering, the City Council stated that the design of the bridge has no impact on the environment or public safety. The approved design of the bridge removes a sidewalk on the south side of the bridge in favor of a pair of bicycle lanes.

The lawsuit, to be filed by the firm of Chatten-Brown & Carstens, challenges the assertion that a sidewalk can be removed without impacting local circulation under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“Here the city, despite the size and complexity of the project, issued a Negative Declaration. That’s only allowed when there are no significant impacts or all impacts have been completely mitigated,” explains Michelle Black, an associate with Chatten-Brown & Carstens. “With the current design, there will be significant impacts to circulation that have not been studied.”

If successful, the lawsuit will force a full environmental study by the city and a serious consideration of several options. Chatten-Brown & Carstens is filing the suit on behalf of Ward and “Angelenos for a Great Hyperion.”

The City Council approved the environmental documents  for the project on June 9 over the objections of community advocates and incoming Councilman David Ryu, who now represents the communities on one side of the bridge.

The rejection was rushed, in part, because of a questionable city staff claim that funding from the state would expire were the city to take the time to complete a full environmental study.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the demolishing of that claim by Caltrans staff in committee would have taken a beat to evaluate the concerns residents and an incoming Councilmember have for the project. Instead, the Council barreled forward. Due to the rush to judgment, the opportunity to lead on this project is now out of the Council’s hands and in those of attorneys and judges.

“We hope that with more time and another chance to evaluate the options with open minds, thought and reason will prevail,” Ward concluded. “Our communities deserve a historic bridge that is safe and accessible for people walking and biking and [for] people with disabilities.”

The Glendale-Hyperion Bridge is a concrete arch bridge viaduct in Atwater Village that spans the Los Angeles River and Interstate 5. It was constructed in 1927 by vote of the citizens that lived in Atwater Village at the time and was completed in February 1929. The bridge spans 400 feet over the Atwater section of the Los Angeles River and has four car lanes. Because of its age, the complex of bridges will be soon retro-fitted to be more seismically sound, including a new road configuration.

  • ubrayj02

    Okay, I will walk you through this:

    On a street with a proper road diet cars will move slower than on a non-road diet configuration BUT their average travel times can be improved.

    When you give motorists too much space to speed and then insert turn lanes, driveways, intersections, crosswalks, etc. you create a situation where people race from red light to red light and actually degrade their average travel speed and times. There is an inertia that eats into your time and your average travel speed when you bunch cars up at red lights.

    Traffic flows better (more cars, slightly elevated average speeds) when cars have space between them and can coast closer to their average trip speeds rather than stop and start in big clumps.

    So, like before, you aren’t really arguing with us about any material harm being done to motorists other than an injury to their pride – as with a proper design most road diets can actually SPEED CAR TRAVEL TIMES UP. Right now you are going 45mph for 20 seconds (roughly two city blocks) and then sitting at a red light for 1 minute going nowhere, with an average speed of 15 mph. With a road diet you can travel that 25 mph for twice as long, catch a 1 minute red light and average 16.7 mph. This is how it works.

    Bonus! You have just exponentially reduced the risk of life ending crashes to all road user groups while modestly improving average travel speeds.

    Again, what the issue is here is that motorists deeply desire an iron fisted authoritarian, spiteful, street design to assuage our feelings when it might look like a private motorist is no longer the beating heart of every transportation decision.

  • I love how these anti-road diet people never respond to reasoned, factual arguments like this.

  • Rob Gunderson

    says the fuckface with the fake name. eat a bowl of shit and choke on a hair

  • Robin McSlobbin

    ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm thats 4 cars in 2 lanes.

    and TWO sidewalks.

  • GEAH

    $0. Got it.

  • ubrayj02

    We all pay to take care of a street maintenance through property, sales, and income taxes and other fees. A portion of that cost is covered by gas taxes and vehicle registration fees but the majority is covered by everyone that pays general taxes.

    You stupid POS.

  • ubrayj02

    Bicycle owners pay sales, property, and income taxes so the answer is “plenty” you stupid little puke.

  • Alex Brideau III

    “…most cyclists …do by ignor[e] all traffic laws, you know like running red lights, not stopping at stop signs, ignoring the elderly in a cross walk and barreling thru.”

    OMG!!! You’re soooooo right! Because car drivers never ever EVER run red lights, fail to stop at stop signs, or ignore the elderly (and the rest of us) in crosswalks. Thanks for setting us straight on this issue!

  • Alex Brideau III

    “Just remember when you do get old, as everyone does, and your breathing is compromised, it will be mostly due to riding on streets with lane diets causing all those cars caught in that traffic to spew out even more pollutants.”

    Well, presuming the person you’re directing this at is of a younger generation, by the time he gets old, a fairly high percentage of the cars on the road will be hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or electrics, so the road-level air he’ll be breathing should be cleaner than what we deal with today. Plus, hybrids typically don’t emit exhaust when stopped in traffic.

    I know you’re trying to make a point, but just sayin’.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Very Yogi Berra-esque!

  • Alex Brideau III

    Well, I don’t if anyone has ever run the statistics, but I’m fairly sure there *have* been accidents of some kind at every intersection.

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