By ROBERTO FONSECA
City transportation officials presented plans earlier this week to improve safety along a one-mile long stretch of Fletcher Drive, which was described as one of the most dangerous streets in Los Angeles. But some elements of the plans, which included reducing traffic lanes while adding bike lanes, were criticized by many residents, who said they would only worsen traffic congestion.
“Rush hour traffic is bad enough with two lanes,” said Silvio Miranda, an Atwater Village resident who attended a Tuesday night open house hosted by the L.A. Department of Transportation. “We’re going to be opening up an entire lane just for it to be used by random biker that comes along every once in a while.”
The proposed changes are being made under the city’s Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2025. Vision Zero singled out Fletcher — which runs through Atwater Village, Elysian Valley and Glassell Park — for safety improvements as a result of a rise in collisions and deaths since 2002.
Fletcher is among the top 40 most dangerous streets in all of Los Angeles, said Lilly O’Brien, a representative of Vision Zero.
The meeting outlined the goals and possible steps that are to be taken in order to make changes to Fletcher between the 5 Freeway on the south and San Fernando Road on the north. The project will be funded by taxes taken from measure R and M.
Officials at the community open house presented the changes included in two alternatives:
- Remove a traffic lane in each direction
- Add center turn lanes and crosswalks on streets along the route
- Add bike lanes
- Install speed feedback signs, flashing pedestrian crossing lights and protected left-turn hand signals
- Extending the sidewalk or the curb into the intersections along the street.
- Slight lane reduction to add center turn lane
- Add speed feedback signs
- Add flashing pedestrian crossing lights
Officials will announce a decision about the alternatives at a public meeting on July 19.
“Based on comments and suggestions we have received here at the meeting, we will decide what alternative to choose from and we’ll go on from there,” said Bryan Ochoa with Vision Zero.
The city wants to implement the first phase of the project by the end of the year, Ochoa said. Based on the reaction to the initial improvement, officials would then proceed with phase two. The changes would be funded by taxes generated by ballot measures R and M, which support county transportation projects.
Upon reviewing the alternatives and range of improvements, the inclusion of a road diet and bike lanes seemed the most controversial. But officials with Vision Zero say they are still determined to improve safety along Fletcher.
“We’re focused on saving lives,” says O’Brien.
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Roberto Fonseca is a senior journalism major at Chico State University. Fonseca grew up in Atwater Village and attended Atwater Elementary, Irving Middle, Marshall and Sotomayor High schools before graduating in 2014.
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