Transportation/Livability Look-Ahead: Projects/Events Coming Up in 2023

Metro Regional Connector Grand Avenue/Bunker Hill Station under construction in mid-2022. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
Metro Regional Connector Grand Avenue/Bunker Hill Station under construction in mid-2022. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

Last year, I did a Streetsblog L.A. post with some optimistic predictions for 2022. I only got about twenty percent right… so this year, I am going for just a “look ahead” to some projects/programs/events etc. anticipated to shape L.A. transportation in 2023.

January 1, 2023: New State Laws Take Effect

The new year means new state laws going into effect. There are several that impact transportation and livability:

  • Decriminalizing walking: Under A.B. 2147 so-called “jaywalking” isn’t entirely decriminalized, but law enforcement officers are prohibited from stopping pedestrians for specified traffic tickets (mainly “jaywalking”) when there is no immediate danger of a crash. The bill essentially allows pedestrians to legally cross mid-block crossings whenever wherever it is safe.
  • Correction: this takes effect January 1 2024: Bike head-starts: Under A.B. 1909, Bicyclists can (legally) get a head-start at pedestrian head-start signals, known as Leading Pedestrian Intervals – LPIs.
  • No parking requirements near high-quality transit: Under A.B. 2097, cities can no longer require suburban parking requirements on projects (new buildings, new uses of existing buildings, etc.) nearby transit stations and frequent transit stops.

January 2023: Mayor Karen Bass Controls Four Seats on the Metro Board 

In January, L.A. city’s newly elected Mayor Karen Bass will assume a leadership position on the Metro board. The mayor is responsible for four seats on the thirteen-seat board of directors; typically the mayor sits on the board (cycling through as board chair every three years) and appoints three other boardmembers.

Last month, outgoing Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that Bass was temporarily keeping his three appointees – L.A. City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin, and Jacqueline Dupont-Walker – through the January board cycle (January 18 and 19 committee meetings and the January 26 full board meeting) before making her own appointments.

In other recent Metro board news, in mid-December new County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath replaced outgoing boardmember Sheila Kuehl.

The Metro board has a special meeting next week. The agenda hasn’t been released for the 9 a.m. Wednesday January 4 board meeting (check Metro meeting page), which is apparently when the new board will elect officers Correction 1/3 – the meeting agenda is now available; it only includes approving allowing the board to continue to meet remotely, with no officer elections.  If past practices continue, Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian remains board chair through June, and Mayor Bass would be board chair starting July 2023.

January 2023: Metro Deciding Fate of 57/60 Freeway Expansion

Earlier this month, Metro staff announced that the Metro board is expected to approve a budget that would mean accelerating the agency’s $400+million 57/60 Freeway widening in the East San Gabriel Valley city of Diamond Bar. The mega-project’s design was approved in 2013; much of it was tailored to accommodate car traffic to a proposed NFL stadium that was never built.

57/60 Freeway
2020 Metro 57/60 Freeway Expansion map

January/February 2023: New Bus Lanes on La Brea Avenue and Venice Boulevard

In early 2023, the L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) will get work underway on the initial northern section of new La Brea Avenue bus lanes – between Sunset and Olympic Boulevards.

LADOT bus lane installation is also underway (now or any day now) on Venice Boulevard – between Inglewood and Culver Boulevards. The project includes upgrading existing unprotected Venice  Boulevard bike lanes to parking-protected.

February/March/April 2023: Metro Opens Regional Connector Subway 

Construction is nearing completion on Metro’s Regional Connector subway project in downtown Los Angeles. The $1.8 billion 1.9-mile light rail subway will tie together the Metro A (Blue), E (Expo), and L (Gold) Lines, offering single-seat rides from East L.A. to Santa Monica and from Azusa to Long Beach.

Regional Connector map - image via Metro
Regional Connector map – image via Metro

Metro leadership had announced that the Regional Connector opening was anticipated in Fall 2022, but that didn’t quite happen. As of early December construction was 98.4 percent complete. Metro is currently in the testing and training phase… and the opening can’t be that far off.

Throughout 2023: Eight CicLAvia Events

The schedule hasn’t been announced, but Southern California’s popular open streets festival will take place eight times in 2023. In the years prior to the pandemic, there were 4-5 events annually; in 2022, there were four.

Mid-2023: Sepulveda Bus Lanes

Metro and LADOT are planning new bus lanes on Sepulveda Boulevard through the San Fernando Valley – from Rayen Street to Ventura Boulevard. If the project schedule is similar to other city bus lane projects, the improvements should be completed in 2023.

Mid-2023: Metro Starts Fare-Capping

Metro recently approved fare-capping: allowing riders to pay per ride up to the cost of daily and weekly passes. Fare capping is expected to be available to riders in summer 2023.

Mid-2023: Groundbreaking for Full Construction for San Fernando Valley Light Rail

Metro recently kicked-off an early construction phase for its East San Fernando Valley rail: a 6.7-mile ~$2 billion light rail line running down the middle of Van Nuys Boulevard. Metro needs another $600 million to get full construction underway; the state legislature is anticipated to grant that money in a special round of transit funding, hopefully in the next couple months.

Metro rendering of East San Fernando Valley Transit Project's Arleta Station
Metro rendering of East San Fernando Valley Transit Project’s Arleta Station

Fall 2023: Bus Lane Camera Enforcement Pilot

In order to speed up buses by discouraging drivers from parking in bus lanes, Metro and LADOT are collaborating on an on-bus camera enforcement pilot. The initial cameras are expected on Wilshire buses starting in Fall 2023 (see Council File 21-1224).

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