A project to make East L.A. more pedestrian and bike friendly near Metro Gold Line Stations could also leave less room for cars and trucks in some cases
On Wednesday, about two-dozen people came together at Centro Maravilla in East L.A. for the final community advisory meeting for a $9-million-dollar streetscape improvement effort to make routes to and from the rail stations more safe and enjoyable for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Gold Line Eastside Stations Access Project includes putting in new landscaping, lighting, directional signage, street furniture, and bikeways in East L. A. in the vicinity of the stations. But, in some cases, the project will also reduce parking and narrow traffic lanes, which raised some concern at this week’s meeting.
On Ford Boulevard, between East 1st Street and East 3rd Street, the proposed improvements near the Maravilla Gold Line Station (across from the popular King Taco) are intended to better balance the sharing of the street by pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists. Right now, a common complaint by locals is that this route is avoided because it is poorly suited for pedestrians, often used by large vehicles like casino buses or big rigs for parking under the 60-freeway overpass, and also not really safe for bike riders.
According to Dolores Roybal Saltarelli, Metro Transportation Planner and Project Manager, the sidewalk will be extended out 4 feet to provide space for installation of trees, pedestrian lighting, and directional signage. In addition, a “Class 2″ bike lane will also be installed alongside the sidewalk. Of course, it all comes with a price.
One outcome from the planning work for improving Ford Boulevard is that parking on this stretch of street will not be allowed in the future and the traffic lanes for vehicles traveling it will be narrowed from its present dimensions for a portion. Reportedly, many local residents want to see the beautification of this street and don’t mind the no -parking proposal.
Others, like Kristie Hernandez, took a more big-picture view and expressed concern with the proposal because it would result in the loss of street space as wide-streets like Ford Boulevard take a hit from these improvements. She wants to preserve wide streets because of the heavy traffic flows and scarce parking in East L.A. She also doesn’t want to set precedence for this to occur more widespread in the future. However, over all, she is happy with the improvements to be done for she loves her community in East L.A.
Another chance for the public to learn about the project and give input is coming up at Community Presentation #2, which will be held on Saturday, September 7, 2013, from 9 am – 4 pm, at East L.A. Civic Center, in conjunction with the Taste of East LA event.
C.J. Salgado is a resident of East L.A.