A 7.7-mile Wilshire Boulevard peak hour bus plane project was endorsed on Wednesday afternoon by the Metro Board of Directors’ planning committee by a vote of 5 to 0. It is the same route recommended by Metro staff.
The route — shown above — includes a 2.3-mile segment west of Beverly Hills in the Brentwood area and 5.4 miles of Wilshire east of Beverly Hills. A segment of about one-mile between Selby and Comstock avenues in Westwood was excluded. (Here’s more info on all the alternatives).
The five yes votes on Wednesday came from Board members Diane DuBois, John Fasana, Richard Katz, Pam O’Connor and Zev Yaroslavsky.
The full 13-member Board of Directors will consider the same issue at their meeting on Thursday, May 26, when the Board is asked to approve the final environmental report for a project that has been talked about since the 1990s.
The full Board has the leeway to adopt this alternative or others — including a 5.4-mile alternative that would run on Wilshire only east of Beverly Hills.
The Los Angeles City Council and the County Board of Supervisors must also approve the final study and route.
Time is a critical. Metro, the city and the county must approve of the project by September or possibly face losing some federal funding for the project. The federal government in early 2009 awarded $23 million for the project, which has been in the study phase since then.
Metro officials said that even with the shorter project, the Federal Transit Administration will allow some of the money to go to signal priority upgrades throughout the entire Wilshire Boulevard in the city of Los Angeles. The estimated cost of the project is $31.5 million.
Board member Yaroslavsky, who represents much of the Westside as a County Supervisor, indicated that he is concerned that traffic speeds in the Brentwood area have decreased in the past five years, even after a one-mile bus lane test project on Wilshire was removed by the city of Los Angeles. City of L.A. transportation officials told the Board committee that they believe even with an additional lane of traffic east of Barrington, there could be some adverse impact on traffic in the area.
A deputy for Councilman Bill Rosendahl also told the Board that Rosendahl supports the 5.4-mile alternative because the proposed bus lane west of Beverly Hills would be fragmented and offer no real benefit to bus riders or motorists. Other speakers asked the Board to adopt a longer version of the project that would also include the bus lane in Westwood, saying it would offer the most benefits for bus riders and cyclists.