By T.A. Hendrickson
The latest development in the controversy over Metro’s plan for a bus rapid transit (BRT) line in Eagle Rock came on October 24, when the agency announced it would study a 134 Freeway route through town in addition to the Colorado Boulevard route already on the table.
The development was seen as a victory for Eagle Rockers who have opposed Metro’s plan to run the BRT on Colorado Boulevard. It was also seen as a concession from Metro, which had previously rejected a 134 Freeway route in favor of the Colorado Boulevard route.
On closer inspection, however, it’s not clear at this point what studying a 134 Freeway route really means. The confusion stems from apparent differences within Metro about just how far the agency will go in analyzing a freeway option.
Narrow or broad?
The illustration above shows the freeway route that Metro says it intends to study. The route bypasses Eagle Rock, hopping onto the freeway at Harvey Drive in Glendale and continuing into Pasadena. A 134 Freeway alignment without stops in Eagle Rock is the same route that Metro already considered and rejected, a point that was confirmed by a Metro spokesperson who told the Boulevard Sentinel that Metro would study “the 134 option that was previously removed.”
So, in effect, Metro is planning a brand new study of a previously rejected idea – an idea in which the debate is framed in all-or-nothing terms: Either you have a route with stops on Colorado Boulevard or a route on the 134 Freeway with no local stops.
But is that really the choice?
During the public discussion in Eagle Rock in the past several months, some stakeholders have called for examining a middle way – namely, a route along the 134 Freeway with stops near the freeway on- and off-ramps. Potential stops mentioned for the west end of town included Harvey Drive (technically Glendale, but close) or West Broadway; for the east end of town, Figueroa Street at Colorado Boulevard was mentioned. The point of blending a freeway option with freeway-adjacent stops would be to serve riders while preserving the boulevard.
To find out if that middle way would be considered, the Boulevard Sentinel asked Hilda Solis, the L.A. County Supervisor who represents Eagle Rock and is a Metro Board Member, if Metro would be instructed to study a 134 Freeway route with stops near the freeway ramps at both ends of town.
The reply, through her spokesperson, Michael Kapp, was that “Metro will study and identify potential stations for the new 134 route option,” including how buses can exit and enter the freeway, the location of future stations and how passengers will access those stations. “Stations at or adjacent to the Harvey Drive and Figueroa Street freeway ramps are likely the closest potential stops to Eagle Rock,” wrote Kapp, adding, “All possibilities will be considered.”
Solis’ view of the freeway option is more expansive than the one mapped out by Metro. It better reflects how the public discussion has developed. It may not be where Metro planners want to go, given their previously stated preference for a Colorado Boulevard route. But if the goal is to thoroughly vet the options, it is where they need to be led.
Another Chance to Participate in the BRT Discussion
Metro will hold five interactive workshops with the public this month. The workshops will let participants share their vision of what bus rapid transit should look like in their community and what urban design elements they would like to see in the project.
Meeting dates and locations in Eagle Rock are:
Saturday, November 16, 2019 (Three sessions to choose from)
Session #1: 9 – 10:30 a.m.
Session #2: 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Session #3: 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Yosemite Recreation Center
1840 Yosemite Drive
Metro asks that you RSVP via Eventbrite: http://tinyurl.com/y5qxmhvx or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 213-418-3228
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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel, and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times. Hendrickson is committed to local news reporting and to finding a way forward for local news outlets in today's challenging media markets.