HIGHLAND PARK –– City officials on Thursday afternoon plan to celebrate the installation of new traffic signals at Figueroa Street and N. Avenue 55, a dangerous crossing where 51-year-old Irma Yolanda Espinoza-Lugo died last September after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
The dedication comes as Councilman Gil Cedillo has been at odds with cycling and pedestrian activists. The activists have faulted the First District Councilman for opposing measures – such as the addition of bike lanes and the removal lanes for motor vehicles – they say would increase safety and reduce collisions on Figueroa and other streets. Last week, one of Cedillo’s most vocal critics on the issue, Lincoln Heights resident and cycling advocate Josef Bray-Ali, filed paperwork needed to run in next year’s First District council election against incumbent Gil Cedillo, according to L.A. Now.
But Cedillo’s office has said it remains committed to improving public safety by installing traffic signals and pursuing other measures. Last fall, Cedillo introduced a City Council motion to transfer $305,000 in funds from other accounts to pay for the new traffic signals at Figueroa and Avenue 55. Before last year’s fatality three pedestrians and two cyclists had been injured in collisions with motor vehicles at the intersection since 2013, according to a report conducted by the city.
Today, workers were installing the signals only a few feet from where Yolanda Espinoza-Lugo was killed.