By T. A. Hendrickson
Metro is homing in on a plan for a bus rapid transit (BRT) route through Eagle Rock.
Nothing is written yet in stone, but Metro’s “proposed project” at this stage is for a “side running route” on Colorado Boulevard, with a dedicated bus lane in each direction next to the parked cars. The pros and cons of the side-running route were presented by Metro Project Manager Scott Hartwell at a recent Zoom meeting of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC).
Here’s a recap:
The Eagle Rock route is one segment of Metro’s plan for a BRT line from North Hollywood to Pasadena (NoHo-Pas). In the past year, debate over the Eagle Rock route has centered on whether the BRT should run on Colorado Boulevard or on the 134 Freeway.
In making the case to the ERNC for a side-running route on Colorado Boulevard, Hartwell first compared it to a route down the center of the boulevard.
According to Hartwell, a side–running route is preferable because it preserves the boulevard’s median and most of its curbside parking, while leaving intact two lanes of car traffic in each direction. As such, the side–running configuration fulfills the wishes of many business owners, commuters and tree advocates in Eagle Rock.
The disadvantage of the side running route is that the BRT bus would run in the boulevard’s bike lanes. Under Metro’s plan, bicyclists would be “prioritized” in the shared bus/bike lane, meaning that when a BRT bus finds itself behind a bicyclist, it would merge into regular traffic to pass the bicyclist.
An attendee at the ERNC meeting quickly raised an objection to using the bike lanes for the BRT. Hartwell pointed out that buses and bicyclists share lanes in other parts of the city.
The discussion at the ERNC about the side-running route did not resolve Eagle Rockers’ competing interests. But it did help to clarify what’s at stake, namely:
If the space for a side-running route on Colorado Boulevard did not come from the bike lanes, it would have to come from parking, car lanes and/or the median.
Alternatively, a center-running route on Colorado Boulevard – which is not Metro’s “proposed project” at this stage – would preserve the boulevard’s lanes for parking, cars and bikes, but would turn the median into a BRT bus lane.
What about putting the BRT route through Eagle Rock on the 134 Freeway?
Hartwell acknowledged that a freeway route would leave the boulevard’s parking, traffic, bike lanes and median untouched. But in Metro’s analysis those advantages are outweighed by disadvantages, such as limited access to Eagle Rock if the BRT runs on the freeway. Another disadvantage according to Metro is that a freeway route would be no faster than a boulevard route because of the time it would take to exit and re–enter the freeway at Figueroa Street, where a BRT stop would be located.
In all, Metro made nine presentations this summer to neighborhood groups and elected officials in communities along the proposed NoHo-Pas line. Three of those meetings were about Eagle Rock, according to Metro spokesperson Brian Haas. The first presentation, on July 26, was to The Eagle Rock Association, a private improvement group. The second presentation, on August 26, was to the transition team for Council District 14 Councilmember-elect Kevin de León. The third presentation was the ERNC meeting, on September 1.
How, when and with whom Metro communicates has been an issue for Eagle Rockers because back in 2016, decisions on the route were made following at least one nonpublic meeting where the invitees included representatives from CD 14, members of the ERNC, TERA and the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce among others. When the nonpublic decision making came to light in 2019, the result was dismay and dissension among local residents and distrust in the process.
Metro spokesperson Haas said that Metro would hold additional outreach meetings in October.
In late October, Metro is expected to release a draft environmental impact report (DEIR) of the NoHo-Pas line. The release of the DEIR will be followed by a 45-day public-review period, including two virtual public hearings, said Haas. Metro will then analyze the public input and, by early 2021, recommend a specific plan for the NoHo-Pas line to the Metro Board of Directors. Assuming the Board accepts the recommendation, a final environmental impact report will be completed by late spring, 2021, said Hass. Long term, if all goes according to plan, the NoHo-Pas BRT will be completed in 2024.
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