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Eyes on the Street: Bike Lane Construction on Imperial Highway near LAX

L.A. City is installing new protected bike lanes on Imperial Highway, closing a 1,000-foot gap. The $1.9 million project is expected to be completed by October 2024.

Under construction bike lanes on Imperial Highway. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

This article supported by Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney as part of a general sponsorship package. All opinions in the article are that of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of LABA. Click on the ad for more information.

The L.A. City Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) and Department of Transportation (LADOT) crews are constructing about a thousand feet of new protected bike lanes on Imperial Highway near LAX. The project has been in the works for more than a decade, but very little project information is available.

For many years there have been basic unprotected bike lanes on Imperial Highway east of the Aviation Boulevard C Line Station. In this area, Imperial has a posted speed limit of 50mph, which many drivers exceed. It's effectively an extension of the 105 Freeway. That freeway ends a mile east of the city's project, dumping drivers onto Imperial. It's not a pleasant place to bike, but it is one of very few roadways that connect to the coast through the somewhat impermeable airport-industrial area.

The existing Imperial lanes got within a half-mile of the beach, then dropped just east of Pershing Drive, leaving a ~1,000 foot gap before the bike lane resumed west of Pershing. Some signage directed cyclists to ride on the sidewalk.

Map of L.A. City Imperial Highway bike lanes project

According to LADOT spokesperson Colin Sweeney, the city's Imperial Highway project will "build 1,000 feet of protected bike lanes (in both directions) that will close the gap for cyclists traveling along Imperial Highway from Pershing to 1,000 feet east of Pershing."

In order to free up space for the bike lanes, the city is widening the roadway by shrinking parts of the landscaped median and the north sidewalk area along LAX. (The city is not shrinking the sidewalk itself, but rebuilding it a few feet closer to LAX.)

Per Sweeney, the project will include:

  • bollards along bike lanes
  • ADA compliant sidewalk along the newly built curb and gutter
  • restriping of travel lanes
  • median reduction and landscaping

Construction got underway in October 2023 and is expected to be complete by October 2024. The $1.9 million project is funded by $1.5 million in federal CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program) dollars, plus a $377,000 local match.

Below are photos of construction underway last month, plus some of the existing bikeway context nearby.

New curb construction on Imperial narrowing the median to make space for bike lanes
New widened roadway and rebuilt sidewalk along westbound Imperial Highway
East of the current LADOT/StreetsLA project, in the area near the 105 there are several places where cyclists transition between on-street bike lanes and sidewalks. (It's unclear where pedestrians are expected to go in the above location.)
Aging sign designates a sidewalk (west of the city project) as a one-way bike route
Imperial Highway cyclist using the sidewalk near Sepulveda Boulevard
West of Sepulveda, an Imperial Highway bike/walk tunnel allows cyclists and pedestrians to avoid crossing the terminus ramps of the 105 Freeway
Existing Imperial Highway walk/bike path paralleling the 105 Freeway at its terminus (just west of the above tunnel)
East of the city's project, Imperial Highway cyclists bypass 105 Freeway ramps via sidewalk-level bikeways. The short bypasses are useful to avoid fast-moving cars, but can feel like an isolated gauntlet, potentially unsafe. The one pictured above, near Hughes Way, has two curbs (between car/bike and between bike/ped) with the pedestrian area fenced off (right side of photo). The bikeway is striped for two-way bike travel, but poles and a utility box (center of photo) block westbound bicycling.

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