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Pasadena Proposes 19 Street Improvement Projects for Remaining Metro 710 Funding

Pasadena could use Metro funds to remove/relocate freeway on/off-ramps in the relinquished North 710 Freeway stub. Photo via city of Pasadena

On Tuesday, Pasadena’s Municipal Services Committee unanimously approved a list of 19 potential street improvement projects to present to City Council and later to Metro.

The projects would be funded by $230.5 million dollars in Metro funds that were earmarked for a grade crossing on California Blvd to pass under the L (Gold) Line near Old Pasadena. But the City Council gave that idea the axe last Fall, freeing up the money for other capital infrastructure projects. 

“Something has to be built,” said Joaquin Siques, Pasadena’s Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation.

The funding is for Mobility Improvement Projects (MIP) from Measure R. When the 710 Freeway expansion was canceled in 2017, Metro distributed what was left in that budget to 710 corridor cities (mostly in the northwest SGV) for surface street improvements. The Metro board pushed for this funding to go toward multi-modal facilities, not just car-centric projects (preferred by Metro Highway Program staff), as ex-Metro Board Chair Hilda Solis reminded the agency and cities in a February 2022 motion.

So how much of Pasadena's $230.5 million would go for bicyclists and transit riders? About $242.5 million… of an estimated $461 million total. Huh? Even just looking at the 11 “top priority” projects on the list, the Committee still came up with a predicted $330 million cost. Here’s why. 

Siques told the Committee, “That’s intentional because the Metro Board, when they select projects, has the ability to pull from this list, reduce the amount of funding that they feel should be awarded to these projects.” Siques added, “All of these projects have scalability built in so that we can reduce scope within them. [...] In the event that Metro decides to partially fund or not fund a project [...] we wanted to make the list comprehensive enough to ensure that 230 million remains within the City of Pasadena.”

Measure R MIP High Priority Projects

Most of the proposed projects fall within or adjacent to the SR 710 North stub area. Among them, the Committee’s 11 “top priorities” are:

    • Greenways (the dark green lines above)
      • These include four north/south bike crossings over/under the 210: Wilson Avenue, El Molino Avenue, Sierra Bonita Avenue, and Craig Avenue. Three of them are within a quarter mile of an L Line station. These greenways will provide a bicycle network connection to Lake Station and Hill station, and they will also provide future connectivity to the Memorial Park Station and the Del Mar Station, once the construction of the Union Street Protected Bike Lane and the Cordova Street Roadway Configuration projects are completed. Estimated cost: $12 million.
    • SR-710/SR-134/I-210 Ramp Modifications (the light green rectangle above)
      • With a cost expected to exceed $150 million, this is for the removal or relocation of four freeway on/off-ramps and up to five freeway-to-freeway connector ramps within an active interchange.
      • The Committee’s proposal says removal and/or relocation of the ramps would effectively shift north-south regional traffic away from St. John and Pasadena Avenues, relatively narrow residential streets, to Walnut, Del Mar, Fair Oaks, and Arroyo, broad commercial arteries that are designed to accommodate such traffic. 
    • Pasadena Avenue and St. John Avenue Roadway Network (the forking red lines above)
      • These are described as the primary routes to the 710 stub area. The proposal here is a bike network with unprotected and protected bike lanes, that doesn’t reduce parking too much. Other features will be sidewalk enhancements (trees/lighting), and traffic signal modifications. Cost estimate $75.1 million
    • Avenue 64 Complete Street Program (the blue circles above)
      • The ask here is for supplemental funding for the traffic circle in the works at Avenue 64 and Burleigh Drive, including curb extensions. They’re looking for about $1.5 million
    • Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility (the light green block above, south of the 210, to the right of the east-most Greenway)
      • With the lease on Pasadena Transit’s current facility expiring in three years, the city has been designing and getting environmental clearance for a new one off the corner of Walnut Street and Craig Avenue. It is not funded yet. They’re seeking $62.4 million for it. A future fleet of electric buses could charge there.
    • Columbia Street - from Orange Grove Blvd to Fair Oaks Avenue (the hot pink line above)
      • This involves a bike lane (class unspecified). Otherwise, it includes a modification to the intersection at Orange Grove to “reduce radius of sweeping right turns,” modifications to traffic signals for vehicle and bicycle detection, new pedestrian push buttons, and re-striping and signal modifications for the split/dog-legged intersections of Columbia and Pasadena, and Columbia and Fremont. $9.9 million cost estimate
    • Orange Grove Blvd at Colorado Blvd and Orange Grove Blvd at Holly Street (the yellow circle above)
      • To address safety concerns on 134 Freeway on- and off-ramps here, roadway channelization and traffic signal upgrades are proposed to reduce collisions from weaving and turning. Preliminary cost estimate $4.5 million.
    • San Rafael Avenue - between Linda Vista Avenue and Colorado Blvd (the green circle above)
      • Upgrades to traffic signal controllers, vehicle detection, CCTV camera, fiber optics, relocation of traffic signal and communications cabinets from south side to north side of Colorado. Cost estimate $4.8 million.
    • L (Gold) Line At-Grade Crossing Enhancements (the three red circles above)
      • Video monitoring, data collection and analytics at intersections adjacent to At-Grade Crossings (Glenarm Street, California Blvd, Del Mar Avenue) with the intention of reducing delays. $2.5 million projected cost.
    • Continental Crosswalks (the dotted dark pink line above)
      • These striped crosswalks will be the standard for new installations in Pasadena, and existing crosswalks will be replaced with them. For this project the city wants to replace all in the 710 Stub corridor with continentals (140 crosswalks). They believe it will cost $6.8 million.
    • Orange Grove Blvd Mobility Improvement Program (the orange line above)
      • Includes traffic signal upgrades, fiber optics, signal coordination to address speeding, and replacing free right run slip lane with standard right turn pocket at Orange Grove and California (separate from other Orange Grove projects). Cost estimate $5.4 million.

There are eight other lower priority project ideas that can be found in pages 33-72 of this meeting agenda. But one other that cyclists should take note of is the Arroyo Link, which garnered much support during public comment. The Arroyo Link project isn’t designed yet, but is expected to cost between $45-65 million, and may feature a combination of bike routes and paths connecting Old Town, the Pasadena Civic Center and Pasadena City College. Its also proposed to include a pedestrian connection from Arroyo Boulevard south of the 134 down to the Rose Bowl, Brookside Park, Kidspace Children's Museum, and the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. 

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