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
YOUR SUPPORT HELPS MAKE OUR JOURNALISM POSSIBLE
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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.
9 thoughts on “Mixed Messages from Metro”
Removing consideration of a Figueroa BRT stop almost seems like a punishment, or possibly a way to ensure making sure the community rejects the 134 option. It is hard to imagine any responsible reason to refuse considering stops at either end of Eagle Rock, at Harvey and Figueroa by anyone truly attempting to offer effective rapid mass transit to the community. Why would Metro make such a choice?
A Figueroa stop on the 134 would put people over 2,000 feet from the nearest business (that’s almost half a mile!). That is a terrible option, which is probably why they’re not considering it.
That’s why it seems like a punishment response – “if you won’t allow us to remove 1/3 of Colorado Boulevard for the new bus lane you get no service. If you won’t allow a stop 1/3 of a mile away from Vons then we will put the stop in the next town. Then you’ll be sorry.” Or, or we could explore different stops nearby, or the trolley line or shuttle buses so many folks have spoken up for. It’s the childishness of the “option” that sounds odd.
Take this with a grain of salt, because I take transit every day and I’m a professional transportation planner: But those options you mentioned are bad (and I’m not saying that as someone who’s gung-ho about BRT, because I’m not). They aren’t cost effective or convenient or realistic.
At this point the Boulevard Sentinel/Tritch Family are the “boy who cried wolf.” They were hysterically against the bike lanes on Colorado – and simply put they were totally wrong. They should be owning up to that. Whatever credibility they had as stewards of the community is long gone. And now they’re under the spell of some fringe group from the West Side who are trying to capitalize on boomer gullibility.
I remember going to the meetings for the bike lanes. There were a few dozens people who were extremely vocal how much we needed it and how much it would be used. These people did not live in Eagle Rock. I glanced at the addresses when I signed in. The bike lanes are virtually unused and have forced the previous third lane that is now a bike lane onto the north of Colorado streets. It’s unsafe and it’s like a parade on those streets. It is my fear that this is the case for this idea. I think it’s a hope and dream and not practical.
Whenever one side of a discussion commences with name calling you can be pretty sure they not interested in discussing anything.
The interests of some business owners (not all, but some) and residents may diverge on this question. Some businesses might favor good car/truck access, and some residents might favor less intense boulevard traffic, especially pass-through car traffic. I’m a resident, and I travel Colorado in a car about 2x per day. I don’t really care if I can’t go 40mph or if it takes 30 seconds longer. A print shop or hardware store, many of whose customers may drive in from outside the area, might have different worries.
And aside from the above rational considerations — it *is* true that the parent publication of the present one had a uniformly terrible track record regarding neighborhood issues, basically “change nothing” was the universal response, along with “assume any authority is out to screw you over.” Some of the articles on this BRT line have the same flavor.
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