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First Stretch of Rosemead Blvd Complete Street Improvements Now Open

It’s just a half mile of protected bike lane right now, but it’s slated to expand out to two miles, surrounded by a host of facilities around greater El Monte.

L-R: Mark Pestrella, David Diaz, Gloria Roberts, Hilda Solis, and Erik Lutz line up to take the ceremonial first ride on Rosemead Boulevard’s new protected bike lanes. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

County and local officials gathered just off of Rosemead Boulevard below South El Monte on Saturday to cut the grand opening ribbon of a small bike facility with big potential. 

Right now, it’s just a half-mile of protected two-way bike lanes on the east side of Rosemead. However, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Director of Public Works Mark Pestrella said eventually it will be expanded into a two-mile complete streets facility, with a price tag of $53 million.

Map of Rosemead protected bikeway open now
The full Rosemead project will extend between Gallatin Road (in Pico Rivera) and Rush Street (in South El Monte)

But that’s not all. David Diaz, Executive Director of the mobility nonprofit ActiveSGV, told SBLA that South El Monte and El Monte are in line for more complete streets projects on Rush Street, Santa Anita Avenue, Merced Avenue, and continuing further north on Rosemead.

These projects will bolster multimodal connectivity around what Diaz calls “the best park in L.A. County” – the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area.

For decades, the Whittier Narrows, also known as Legg Lake, has been an eastside staple: 1,492 acres of green space, with running/biking trails, a nature preserve, picnicking tables, radio control racing areas, a clay shooting gallery, a disc golf course, and of course, the artificial lake stocked with fish that you probably shouldn’t eat.

Supervisor Solis shared her fond memories of the Whittier Narrows at the ribbon cutting. “When we were young, my father would bring us here, we would walk and we would have a good time and just know that this was a safe place for us to come.”

The operative word here is “safe,” because the park is hemmed in by very busy roadways: the 60 Freeway, Santa Anita Ave., and Rosemead, which Solis painted a less rosy picture of.

In order to improve make the Rosemead improvements, Solis said her office collaborated with former State Senator Ed Hernandez to pass Senate Bill 461, allowing Caltrans to relinquish control of this part of Route 164 (Rosemead Boulevard from Rush to Gallatin Road) to Los Angeles County. 

The county plans to extend the Rosemead bikeway south to Gallatin Road, the northern boundary of the city of Pico Rivera. That would put cyclists a couple miles (bikeable distance) from the future Pico Rivera Metro station (Rosemead at Washington Blvd.) on the planned Eastside light rail extension expected to open circa 2035. The bikeway also dovetails with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments’ plan for Bus Rapid Transit along Rosemead.

Pico Rivera City Councilmember Erik Lutz said his city supports the goal to extend the BRT route on Rosemead in Pico Rivera, and potentially down Lakewood Boulevard through the Gateway Cities to Long Beach.

Public Works Director Pestrella sees a lot of benefits from all of these related projects, “everything from the improvement in our air quality, to the improvement of our health, [to] reducing the amount of greenhouse gas... to reducing the pollutants that we breathe in every day."

"Rosemead Boulevard produces a ton of traffic," noted Pestrella, "with that traffic comes those effects including unsafe driving at times. This project will reduce unsafe driving and allow for equitable access.”

In the meantime, the admittedly short strip of protected bike lanes add another connection in the existing bike path network in and around the Whittier Narrows. The narrows is essentially a confluence of two rivers - the Rio Hondo and the San Gabriel - so it's also the intersection of the county's longest bike paths which run along those waterways.

SBLA asked Supervisor Solis how she felt after her ceremonial bike ride up and down the lane. “Safe, totally safe,” said Solis. “And it really gave me a sense of being out in the open and being able to breathe clean air and just to really take in the environment, look at all the greenery look at all the hillsides, the park, the ponds, the lake and just really connect again with something that for me – oftentimes in our busy lifestyles, we don't always get a chance to come out and enjoy the outdoors.”

A child and parent try out the new protected bike lanes along Rosemead Boulevard. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
The new protected bike lane on Rosemead Boulevard in South El Monte ready for its ribbon-cutting last week. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

Streetsblog’s San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”Sign-up for our SGV Connect Newsletter, coming to your inbox on Fridays!

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