The future of Eagle Rock Boulevard will be like the present, only more of it, as taller and larger residential construction replaces the corridor’s low slung commercial buildings. To believe otherwise is to not believe your own eyes.
But in one way, the future need not be like the present. Eagle Rock Blvd. can be – and should be – a safer thoroughfare. In 2016, a stretch of the boulevard from West Avenue 41 to Colorado Blvd. was identified by the City of Los Angeles as “high injury,” with an above-average level of serious traffic collisions, including crashes that involve pedestrians and bicyclists. Piecemeal fixes, such as a new lower speed limit on York Blvd. at Eagle Rock Blvd., are helpful but inadequate. They are few and far between, leaving many hazards unaddressed. They are invariably reactive, not proactive, and thus unable to keep up with new hazards from more vehicles and more people. Piecemeal fixes also squander the chance to combine safety reforms with landscaping or other beautification options.
Help may be on the way. Jan. 30 is the launch date of “Rock the Boulevard,” a new initiative by city officials and community stakeholders to upgrade the public street and sidewalks of Eagle Rock Blvd. in a more thorough way. Even at this early stage, the initiative has considerable support in terms of money and organization. City Councilmember José Huizar has contributed $23,000 from discretionary funds as seed money for the effort, which is being spearheaded by The Eagle Rock Association (TERA), a private improvement group. Occidental College has contributed $13,500 and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council has contributed $2,500. The Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce will cover the costs of public meetings on the project. Greg Merideth, president of TERA, said his group has also given financial support, but declined to say how much.
The process for Rock the Boulevard will be modeled after “Take Back the Boulevard,” an initiative started by TERA in 2011 to upgrade Colorado Blvd. The two prongs of that earlier effort – open-to-all meetings to involve the community in the idea stage and adequate funding to execute the plan – are also the prongs of the new effort, said Bob Gotham, the president of TERA during Take Back the Boulevard and an organizer of Rock the Boulevard.
But, Mr. Gotham said, similar processes do not mean that the actual reforms will be the same for Eagle Rock Blvd. as for Colorado Blvd. In fact, he said, they are likely to be quite different because the boulevards differ in so many ways.
The kickoff meeting on Jan. 30 is intended to seek agreement on broad goals. One goal TERA has proposed is that improvements to Eagle Rock Blvd. should provide a safe environment for all ages and abilities, using various modes of transportation. A related proposal is to improve community health by encouraging alternative forms of transportation, including walking and bicycling. Another goal is to foster the relationships among businesses, residents and visitors along the boulevard. The kickoff and subsequent meetings – at least two more are planned – will also work on setting priorities among various safety and design options.
The early fundraising will help to hire a professional consultant who, among other skills, is expert at navigating the process for securing government grants. The aim is to apply for a grant from the Cal Trans Active Transportation Program by the third quarter of this year – and, assuming the money is approved, to spend it to Rock the Boulevard as soon as the funds roll in.