As we reported recently, the Board of Directors’ planning committee recently asked whether a nearly one-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood should be removed from the rush hour bus lane project being planned along Wilshire.
The concern is that the bus lane in that stretch between Selby and Comstock avenues would not be the parking lane — as is the case elsewhere. Instead, it would be one of the three general purpose traffic lanes and that has led residents of the area to fear that the bus lane will badly impact traffic and make entering and exiting driveways and garages difficult and potentially unsafe.
The full Board of Directors could make a decision on Dec. 9 on whether to include that stretch in the bus lane project. But one big question looms: would removing that area from the project jeopardize the $23 million in funding that the Federal Transit Administration has said it will provide?
Here’s what Metro CEO Art Leahy wrote in his daily email to staff:
FTA Requested to Approve Removal of Wilshire BRT Segment Near Westwood
The Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (EIR/EA) was presented to the Planning and Programming Committee on November 17th. The Committee expressed its overall support for the project, but directed staff to seek Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approval to remove a one-mile segment east of Westwood to address community concerns. The project is funded from a federal Very Small Starts grant, and FTA is being asked to approve this change to the project. Attached is the letter that was sent to FTA. We have requested FTA to respond before the December 9th Board meeting where the Wilshire BRT EIR/EA is scheduled for Board action.
It should be an interesting discussion on the 9th, whichever answer is provided by the FTA. The project in its current form is expected to cost $31.5 million and it’s far from clear that the project would be possible without that money. On the other hand, Metro is offering to reduce the overall cost of the project and the FTA’s contribution if the Comstock-to-Selby stretch is not included.