Last Saturday, Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar joined neighborhood leaders and city staff in breaking ground on safety improvements for Alhambra Avenue in El Sereno. The improvements will take a dangerous stretch of Alhambra Avenue and make it safer for walking and bicycling.
The groundbreaking took place at the intersection of Alhambra, Concord, and Lowell Avenues - right in front of the recently-opened El Sereno Arroyo Playground. The playground is located on a Caltrans-owned property that was slated to be an access ramp for a northward extension of the 710 Freeway. The El Sereno neighborhood is in the path of what was the planned $6 billion tunnel 710 Freeway project. In the face of strong opposition - from El Sereno neighbors, Huizar, and many others - that project was canceled last July.
Speakers at the groundbreaking included Pamela and Val Marquez of Concerned Neighbors of El Sereno. Both spoke of the importance of the community coming together to make various improvements including the park, stopping the 710, and making Alhambra safer. Ms. Marquez emphasized the need to slow down traffic, especially at the crash-prone S-curve, located alongside the park. The project includes the stretch of Alhambra near Endicott Street where, in February 2017, a young mother named Alicia Bello was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
Councilmember Huizar spoke about the importance of Vision Zero and transforming L.A. streets to safely serve a broad cross section of residents. Huizar touted earlier successful road diet safety improvements on Colorado Boulevard, York Boulevard, and Broadway. According to Huizar, the Colorado project has reduced collisions by 40 percent, with minimal delays to drive times.
The $1.2 million project, officially called the Alhambra Avenue Safety Improvements, was the subject of three 2017 community workshops attended by hundreds of residents. El Sereno residents have long been plagued by cut-through traffic and the looming threat of the 710 expansion, and therefore embraced calming down car traffic.
The project is located on the eastern edge of the city of Los Angeles, at its border with the city of Alhambra. The improvements extend 1.5 miles on Alhambra Avenue from Valley Boulevard to the city limit east of Lowell Avenue. Project components include:
A new traffic signal at Lowell Avenue, including a bulb-out for pedestrian safety
A new sidewalk on the north side of the Alhambra Avenue adjacent to the El Sereno Arroyo Playground - this includes a retaining wall that will serve as a future art wall welcoming people to El Sereno
A new crosswalk with flashing lights at Alhambra Avenue and Hollister Avenue
New road diet bike lanes from Valley Boulevard to the city limit - this stretch will be re-striped adding a new center turn lane and reducing two through-lanes in each direction to one
Construction is underway and expected to continue through the end of May.