Critics are saying that plans by Caltrans and the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering will make the difficult-to-cross Glendale-Hyperion complex of historic bridges a nightmare for bicyclists.
The three-year $50 million federally funded project is intended to modernize the 5 freeway using a center divider and other additions to make traffic flow better for vehicles — but those same changes will inhibit bicyclists and pedestrians, many are now saying. Read on:
According to widely known bicyclist Don Ward, three routes take you over the Los Angeles River and link Atwater Village to Silver Lake and Los Feliz. “Of the three, the bridge has the potential to be the safest” for those not in cars, Ward says.
But as it is, Ward says, every time his girlfriend bikes across the Glendale-Hyperion bridge, he fears for her life.
He and others were stunned when the August release of the project's initial Environmental Impact Report revealed that Caltrans and the city's redesign will not include any bike lanes, even though the 2010 Los Angeles Bike Plan designates that the bridge will get bike lanes.
In addition, the city and Caltrans now plan to reduce the popular sidewalks on the bridge from two to one — to make way for something very non-pedestrian, required because federal funding is involved: “They're literally putting in freeway crash barriers,” Ward says.
Ward claims that Caltrans' presentation of the bridge as needing a “seismic upgrade” was merely a strategy to redesign the overpass for faster-moving, 55 mph traffic — following a pattern in which when federal money is involved, it gets used for freeway-oriented needs, not people needs.
Some elements of the plan, as laid out in the environmental study, include seismic stabilization of the structure, adding a center divider and replacing decorative railings.
To accommodate pedestrians walking between Silver Lake and Atwater Village, a new pedestrian bridge will be constructed over the Los Angeles River. To help bicyclists, the existing bike path along the right bank of the river will get a new ramp connection to northbound Glendale Boulevard.
But bicyclists are not satisfied.
“We're trying to figure out what this city is thinking,” says Eric Bruins, planning and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.
Not only have bicyclist organizations opposed this project, but they're concerned for pedestrians as well.
Another group, the Comprehensive Mobility Project, pushed through a nearly unanimous vote of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council's Transportation and Public Works Committee on Monday night urging that the project provide “a complete street with ample sidewalk space” and other amenities.
The full Silver Lake Neighborhood Council will vote on the motion Nov. 6. Matthew Mooney, a representative for the mobility project, said that they have been working in conjunction with the LACBC and hopes the motion will pass.
“It will send a message to the City Council members to re-look at the bridge and allow a public forum,” Mooney says.
A public comment period regarding the Environmental Impact Report on the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge project ends Friday.