Friday, October 28, 2016

Boyle Heights traffic signal gets the green light after a 30 year wait

Photo by Kris Fortin/L.A. Streetsblog

By Kris Fortin, L.A. Streetsblog

After 30 years, and five different councilmembers, residents from Boyle Heights finally got a traffic light at the heavily congested intersection of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Fresno Street. Councilman Jose Huizar, District 14, and local community members gathered Saturday morning to turn on the traffic light, and recall the work that it took to get it at the intersection.

“It took six years, but in the grander scheme of things, that’s not a long time,” said Huizar.

Los Angeles Department of Transportation received $250,000 through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to install the streetlight. Los Angeles has had few new streetlights installed because of budget cuts and staff shortages, said Mehrdad Moshkar, an LADOT district engineer. So bringing a traffic light to this Boyle Heights intersection, Moshkar said, ”is almost making the impossible happen.”

Arturo Solis, the 65-year-old community member that led recent efforts to get the traffic light, said that that even since council member Arthur Snyder his neighbors have been trying to get this streetlight. Community members have been gathering petitions and sending them to each council member following Snyder, including Richard Alatorre, Nick Pacheco, and Antonio Villaraigosa. For the record, Snyder’s term of office ended in 1985.

“I would meet with all the other previous council members, and there was always, we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it, that was the only reason, but never was there any follow through,” said Irma Medina, a local resident that lives a couple blocks from the intersection, on Folsom Street.

Safe streets is an issue in Boyle Heights and on Cesar Chavez Avenue. In 2009, residents protested for safer streets and the lack of a traffic light at the corner of Forest Avenue and Cesar Chavez Avenue.

But when community members began advocating for the traffic light at the Fresno/Cesar Chavez intersection to councilman Huizar’s office, even holding community meetings in their homes, the Councilman gave more attention than his predecessors.

“We’ve had 30-40 years waiting for the light, so the time that they put it on is ok,” said Medina.

This story has been republished with permission  from L.A. StreetsBlog.org

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  1. Not as sexy as a plastic bag ban but just as important in ‘the grander scheme of things’ I suppose.

    Most of the city council’s directives seem to be about PR instead of actually running the city. Are there any lessons learned about why the best city in the world needed an act of Congress and Federal money to install a traffic light?

  2. /Agree

    Why does it take 1/4 of a million dollars to put in a traffic light?

    • $50,000 for the materials
      $25,000 for the labor to install it and program it
      $50,000 extra fees the city swallows to pay for street repairs and painting
      $500 for signs

      I see $125,000 but how they get to $250,000 is a mystery to me.

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