The Public Works Commission unanimously voted this morning to add bike lanes but remove a sidewalk on the Glendale-Hyperion bridge as part of a $50 million improvement project. The commissioners rejected calls by cycling and pedestrian activists to eliminate one traffic lane in order keep sidewalks on both sides of the L.A. River span that connects Atwater Village with Los Feliz and Silver Lake.
The commissioners agreed with many Atwater Villlage residents and business owners who had said that reducing the number of traffic lanes on the bridge to three from four would only worsen congestion in the area. In addition, some commissioners said that the number of pedestrians who currently cross the bridge did not warrant preserving sidewalks on both sides of the span, especially if it meant reducing the number of lanes for cars and trucks.
Engineers had said that the bridge was not wide enough to safely accommodate four lanes of traffic, two bike lanes and two sidewalks – something had to give. Commissioner Heather Repenning said she was concerned primarily with public safety when she voted in favor of the option recommended by city engineers.
“What is currently there now is not safe for anyone,” said Repenning. “It’s not safe for bikes. It’s not safe for walkers. It’s not safe for cars. There is an urgency to get this project moving.”
The proposal now goes to the City Council for a vote.
The commissioners are sending to the City Council a plan that would:
- Eliminate the five-foot wide sidewalk on the east side of the bridge because it cannot be “safely” accessed on either end
- Widen the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge to six feet
- Add raised bike lanes to the east and west sides of the bridge
- Add a pedestrian crossing on the Atwater side of the bridge
- Retain four lanes for motor vehicle traffic
The $40 million project funded by state and federal funds is intended primarily to make the Glendale-Hyperion bridge, which is actually made of several spans and structures, stronger to withstand earthquakes and also improve traffic and pedestrian circulation and restore the structure’s historic character.
Officials have pointed out that the two current sidewalks on the bridge don’t meet the standards set by the American With Disabilities Act and do not provide an uninterrupted connection between Atwater Village and Silver Lake and Los Feliz.
A spokesman for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the plan approved today by the commissioners would create a single, six-foot-wide sidewalk that will provide the first “uninterrupted pedestrian connection” between the neighborhoods on both sides of the river.
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