Metro Offers Update on Rail-to-River Bike/Ped Path Design; Project to Break Ground Mid-2018

Segment A of the Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path will run along Slauson between the Crenshaw and Blue Lines; Segment B will run along Randolph towards the river. Source: Metro
Segment A of the Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path will run along Slauson between the Crenshaw and Blue Lines; Segment B will run along Randolph towards the river. Source: Metro

On June 29, Metro held a public update on the Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path project slated for the Slauson corridor in South L.A.

The update was to showcase the design progress on Segment A (in green, above) thus far, get feedback on the proposed design, and advise the community of next steps.

For those unfamiliar with the project, the Rail-to-River project is an Active Transportation Corridor planned for the Metro-owned rail right-of-way (ROW) along Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles. The 6.4 mile stretch of Segment A was planned to facilitate transit users’ movement between the Crenshaw, Silver, Blue, and local bus Lines, while Segment B (in pink) would connect South L.A. with the Southeast Cities and, eventually, the L.A. River, expanding the regional bicycle network.

Because Metro must negotiate with Union Pacific to access the ROW along Randolph Street (the route chosen for Segment B) and work out plans with the cities the route will pass through, planning for Segment A has moved at a much quicker pace. Metro expects to see the preliminary (30 percent) design completed shortly and to hire a design/build construction contractor to finish the plans and break ground by mid-2018.

The project would be completed in late 2019, around the time that the Crenshaw/LAX Line would be opening.

Slauson before. Source: Metro
Slauson before track removal and project implementation. Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team
Plans for the same spot. Source: Metro
Plans for the same spot. Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team

While the project is still considered an “active transportation corridor” aimed at facilitating connections, at the community advisory committee meetings, many of the participants (myself included) have emphasized the importance of ensuring the project is community-serving.

People will likely use the bike/pedestrian path to connect to transit and commute to work or school, but it’s far more likely that it will be a place for residents to walk with their families and friends, to teach their kids to bike, and as a jogging path and fitness course.

Metro has tried to incorporate those uses into the design.

Where there is room, plans are to separate the walking and biking paths by diverting the walking paths through landscaping, zones with fitness equipment, game tables, benches, and other amenities. Between Normandie and Budlong (below), for example, where the ROW widens significantly, current plans call for game tables (orange), a community event space (blue), fitness equipment (red), a natural park (yellow), and a play area (purple) alongside the walking path (beige), which meanders parallel to the bike path.

Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team
Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team

The windowless industrial buildings butting up against much of Slauson give the corridor an abandoned feel, despite the fact that many people work there and the neighborhoods on either side of it are densely populated and bustling with multi-generational families. The arrival of colorful and fragrant flowering plants would offer residents and curious kids a welcome respite.

Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team
Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team

Shade trees and lighting along the pedestrian path and an emphasis on safety at “mixing zones” – where pedestrians and cyclists cross paths with each other and motor vehicles at intersections – are also integral to the plans.

The width of the ROW, which is variable along the corridor, will determine the separation between the biking and pedestrian paths as well as the space for landscaping and other amenities. Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team
The width of the ROW, which is variable along the corridor, will determine the separation between the biking and pedestrian paths as well as the space for landscaping and other amenities. Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team

In the Hyde Park/Chesterfield Square segment (the section that turns southwest), the path moves between buildings and out of view from the street. As such, lighting, visibility, and safety will be prioritized. Emergency phones, graffiti abatement, and cameras were some of the suggestions aimed at making the path feel accessible to area residents (above).

A section of the path will run between buildings. Source: Metro
Part of the Hyde Park/Chesterfield Square section of the path will run between buildings and out of view of the street or residences. Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team
Lighting, landscaping, emergency phones, and connectivity with cul-de-sacs that end at the ROW are intended to help users feel safe. Source: Metro
Lighting, landscaping, emergency phones, and connectivity with cul-de-sacs that end at the ROW in the Hyde Park/Chesterfield Square area are intended to help users feel safe. Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team

The one section where the plans are not fully determined is for the path terminus.

Because the Crenshaw/LAX Line will resurface along the ROW just south of 67th Street as it heads into Inglewood, the path will come to an end at a rather tiny triangular space at 67th and 11th Avenue.

Potential plans for where the path will end. Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team
Potential plans for where the path will end. Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team

Because the intention of the path was to connect users to transit, the assumption underlying the plans has been that path users will want to connect to the Fairview Heights station. So, potential routes were devised to move folks safely there – either along 67th to West Blvd. or a along more circuitous route via Long Street.

But if the path is used by residents, they are more likely to wish to connect with other local assets – the Inglewood Cemetery, Edward Vincent Jr. Park, the Forum, the new stadium, Van Ness Recreation Center, Harvard Park, or area schools or shopping centers.

Connections to area assets have not yet been a significant component of discussions around the path, but I hope they will be as the design continues to move forward.

Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team
Source: Metro/Cityworks Design Team

In their presentation from last week, Metro notes that it does not yet have funding secured for things outside the core elements of an active transportation project. Essentially, the landscaping and amenities planned for between Normandie and Budlong, the mini-park planned for the path terminus on 67th, improvements that would connect users to the Blue Line more safely, and improvements slated for Hyde Park – things that would make an active transportation path more accessible and more appealing – are not guaranteed just yet.

You can find out more about the project on Metro’s project page: Metro.net/projects/R2R. The presentation meeting attendees saw can be found here. Boards attendees were able to view and offer feedback on can be found here. Our past coverage on the project is compiled in a list below.

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A map of the Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path planned for the Slauson corridor in South and Southeast Los Angeles. Source: Metro

Rail-to-River Route Through Huntington Park, Bell Emerges as Best Candidate; Community Meeting December 8

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Spoiler alert: of the four options Metro is considering, the Randolph Street option (B4) has ranked the highest. Not only would it help connect residents to more schools and other important community destinations, it would be able to provide residents with the safest way to reach those destinations. Best of all, it would add over four miles to the bike/pedestrian path and connect users to the river and the existing bike path there.

Planning and Programming Committee Recommends Metro Board Take Next Steps on Rail-to-River ATC

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On October 23, 2014, the Metro Board of Directors voted to adopt the Rail to River Intermediate Active Transportation Corridor (ATC) Feasibility Study and directed staff to identify funding for full implementation of the project. The Board also authorized $2,850,000 be put towards facilitating the environmental, design, alternative route analysis, and outreach work required for […]