Metro Presents Refined Bus Rapid Transit Designs for Eagle Rock

Project seen as an equity and climate litmus test for now-mayoral-candidate Kevin de León

Still from Metro Eagle Rock BRT video - showing the proposed Colorado Boulevard  "One Travel Lane" option
Still from Metro Eagle Rock BRT video - showing the proposed Colorado Boulevard "One Travel Lane" option

At a pair of community meetings last week, Metro presented some new details on its North Hollywood to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. The new information includes quantification of two options under consideration for the most contested portion of the line: Colorado Boulevard through the Los Angeles City community of Eagle Rock.

Metro’s NoHo-to-Pasadena BRT project will be an ~18-mile-long new line extending from the North Hollywood Station to the L Line in Old Town Pasadena. The project spans the cities of Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, and Los Angeles. Through Eagle Rock, community advocates have been promoting a design, called Beautiful Boulevard, that would reduce lanes for driver through-traffic, in order to preserve existing street features. In May, Los Angeles City Councilmember – and now mayoral candidate – Kevin de León stated that Metro needed to consider maintaining two through-lanes for drivers. That sent the project back out for yet another round of community input meetings.

Last week’s meetings showcased refined designs for the two remaining options, now called “Single Travel Lane” (in each direction) and “Two Travel Lanes.” These two alternatives were shown in a video fly-through rendering and in an aerial view, a representative detail of which is shown below.

Metro's two remaining alternatives for BRT on Colorado Blvd through Eagle Rock. Image via Metro project webpage
Detail of Metro’s two remaining alternatives for BRT on Colorado Blvd through Eagle Rock. The lower “Single Travel Lane” design is essentially the Beautiful Boulevard design. Image via Metro project webpage

As the Beautiful Boulevard Coalition has noted (see helpful comparison webpage), the Single Travel Lane alternative – which is largely the same as the Beautiful Boulevard design – would add new transit while preserving existing medians, trees, on-street parking, and bike lanes.

Eagle Rock architect Michael MacDonald notes that “The ‘One Lane’ option is a thoughtful evolution of the Eagle Rock community’s ‘Beautiful Boulevard’ concept, which sets Colorado Boulevard as a destination, while the ‘elimination of on-street parking, pick-up zones, and Al Fresco dining called for by the ‘Two Lane’ option threatens to put many of our local restaurants and kid-oriented businesses out of business.”

The Two Travel Lanes option would have a half-mile long westbound gap in bus lanes between the 134 Freeway and Dahlia Drive.

Metro’s analysis also draws the distinctions between the two options:

Metro's comparison of one and two lane alternatives - via Metro presentation
Metro’s comparison of one and two lane alternatives – via Metro presentation

Metro did detailed analysis of potential changes to on-street parking.

Metro Eagle Rock BRT parking analysis - via Metro presentation
Metro Eagle Rock BRT parking analysis – via Metro presentation

Preserving two car travel lanes, while adding BRT, would result in a loss of two-thirds of existing on-street parking. The Single Travel Lane alternative would result in removing one-third of existing parking; that option would mean that sufficient parking would remain adequate to meet the current (actually pre-COVID) peak demand.

Metro modeled travel patterns for the two options.

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Metro summary of travel modeling – via Metro presentation

Metro found that reducing a travel lane would, appropriately, result in fewer drivers cutting through Eagle Rock. Overall the Single Travel Lane option is expected to result in a twenty percent reduction in car traffic on Colorado – and even a nine percent reduction in cars on neighboring Eagle Rock Boulevard. Metro also found negligible spillover traffic on Hill Drive and Yosemite Drive.

Metro’s traffic analysis shows that corridor peak-hour drive times would increase under the Single Travel Lane option. During morning peak, it would take 14 minutes to drive from Broadway to the 134 Freeway, while the BRT would make the same trip in just 9 minutes. Similarly, at peak hours, BRT would travel at 15 mph, while drivers would go 9 mph.

Though the ultimate design decisions for Eagle Rock are up to the Metro board, one of the key deciders is Councilmember de León. In his year on City Council, de León has kept a fairly low profile on transportation issues. If elected mayor, de León becomes the most powerful single person on the Metro board – essentially controlling four votes out of thirteen. Can Angelenos count on de León to prioritize transit riders, equity, and climate – for all of L.A. County if he won’t do it in his own district?

Despite de León’s support, to date, for retaining two travel lanes for drivers, some of the more reactionary anti-transit elements in Eagle Rock are calling for his recall, in part due to their perception that he is too pro-BRT.

Kevin de León recall sign – photo via Eagle Rock Crime Watch Facebook page

There are a few more NoHo-Pasadena BRT meetings coming up. Metro and de León are hosting in-person meetings this Saturday, October 2, with limited time slots. Sign-up for in-person meetings via Metro’s Google form. At 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on October 7 , Metro will host virtual community meetings focused on the BRT project through the city of Burbank; find the Burbank meeting access details at Metro’s The Source.

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