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Rail-to-Rail Bike/Ped Path along Slauson Delayed but Moving Forward

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

The last time I wrote about Metro's Rail-to-River project was back in mid-2017, when Metro was preparing to send out an invitation for bids (IFB) to potential design/build contractors.

While there was much more that needed to be done with regard to making the bike and pedestrian path planned for the Slauson corridor more community-serving and -uplifting (as opposed to just facilitating passage through the community), things seemed to be falling into place with regard to getting the project off the ground. Metro even expected to begin construction on the western rail-to-rail portion (Segment A, in green, above) in mid-2018.

The vendors near Avalon have been at that site nearly every weekend going on eleven years. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog
When I first spoke to them in 2013, the vendors near Avalon reported having been at that site nearly every weekend for eleven years at that point. Most vendors along the corridor live in the area and rely on vending to keep their families afloat. Even so, Metro remained reluctant to engage the vendors throughout the planning process. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

As we close out 2019, however, ground has yet to be broken. And it will likely remain unbroken for another year.

Metro had originally received three proposals for the design/build project when it first issued an IFB over a year ago, but all three were rejected for being well above budget.

To minimize both the risks associated with having to seek city approvals and some of the other factors that drove bidders' projected costs so high, Metro subsequently changed the project delivery method to design/bid/build. Now instead of the contractor and design consultant producing the conceptual drawing and approved-for-construction design, Metro is completing a design that will be fully approved for construction before potential contractors are invited to bid on it.

At present, Metro reports, the design is almost complete and is going through the final plan review stage with the city and county.

An IFB for the project should therefore be released in the summer of 2020, and a contractor brought on board in the fall (assuming the design is approved on schedule). Construction should take approximately 24 months, meaning it would likely be completed by the end of 2023 or early 2024.

The project seeks to make a corridor that is profoundly hostile to those who walk or roll along and across it much more accessible and welcoming.

Bike and pedestrian collisions along the corridor. (Feasibility Study)
Bike and pedestrian collisions along the Slauson corridor between 2003 and 2013, as mapped out in Metro's 2014 Feasibility Study

First proposed by Metro Board members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina in 2012, the goal of the project was to convert a right-of-way (ROW) deemed infeasible for passenger rail in 2009 (see the Harbor Subdivision study here) into a community asset in an intensely park-poor area.

Over the next four years, the Metro board adopted the feasibility study for the path, received a $15 million TIGER grant to push the design and construction process along, decided to pursue acquisition of the ROW along Randolph through the Southeast Cities for Segment B, and produced a preliminary (30 percent complete) design of what the transformed corridor could look like.

Rendering of what the Slauson corridor bike and pedestrian path could look like. Metro/Cityworks Design
Rendering of what the Slauson corridor bike and pedestrian path could look like. Rendering: Metro/Cityworks Design

Segment A, the 6.4-mile "rail-to-rail" portion of the project that largely follows Slauson, is intended to facilitate transit users' movement between local bus lines, the Silver Line, the A/Blue Line, and the soon-to-open Crenshaw Line.

Metro is able to proceed with the work along Segment A because it already owns that ROW. In contrast, the design and construction of Segment could take a decade or more because Metro must negotiate with Union Pacific to access the ROW along Randolph Street and work out plans with each of the Southeast Cities the path will pass through on its way to the connect with the river.

The potential design of the path under the 110 Freeway. Source: Cityworks Design Team
The potential design of the path under the 110 Freeway. Source: Cityworks Design Team

We'll continue to post updates as the project moves forward. In the meanwhile, check below for all our past coverage or visit Metro’s project page: Appreciate our coverage? Donate and be entered into a raffle to win a book! Details here.

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