El Sereno - What would it take to improve Huntington Drive?
How can this traffic artery work better for every kind of transportation, while allowing smoother access to everything along the way? Add sidewalks and bike lanes? Create a bus-only route? Expand parks and open spaces?
These are some of the questions residents will be asked as the broad corridor -- a former Red Car street car route -- will be getting reimagined and reworked over the next few years. There’s no picture yet of how it will look in the end, because the City’s Bureau of Engineering, in conjunction with the office of City Council District 14, is only just starting to gather ideas.
“Huntington Drive is a vital regional corridor connecting other nearby cities to Downtown Los Angeles,” said Pete Brown from the office of City Councilmember Kevin de Leon. “Since Huntington Drive is a major corridor that takes traffic from the San Gabriel Valley to Downtown, it has been prioritized by Metro as part of their NextGen bus plan.”
Renovations will focus on a four-mile stretch from Huntington Drive and Alhambra Road to Mission Road and Valley Boulevard, which has six lanes in parts, and is considered by many as El Sereno's main drag and commercial district. It also runs past schools and apartment buildings, and its grassy median is wide enough in spots to accommodate a veterans monument as well as large homeless encampments.
City officials are now starting to meet with the public and consider what the project's web site calls an “unscreened set of alternatives.” Eventually those will be narrowed down to a few choices to be studied further.
That whole process of studying the possibilities will take about a year, and should be done by mid 2022, according to Mary Nemick with the Bureau of Engineering.
“Following extension community engagement and work with the Council office, approximately three feasible alternatives will be reviewed and analyzed in detail,” Nemick said. “One preferred alternative will be recommended.”
Then it’ll be another three years or so while the environmental documentation process works its way through. Changes won’t even start to happen until around 2025.
While all options still seem to be open at the moment, however, the Huntington Drive Multi-Modal Transportation Improvement Project does not seem to include a road diet, Brown and Nemick said.
“The project is not expected to lose a traffic lane,” Brown said. “It will most likely involve reconfiguration of the roadway to maximize space for various modes of travel as well as maximizing open space availability, including the extension of bike lanes, continuous sidewalks, and traffic circulation improvements.”
The project is being funded by some of the money that had previously been allocated for construction of the 710 Freeway extension. The 710 project was abandoned in 2019 after decades of local opposition.