The big day is almost here: The Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday for one of three options for the Wilshire Boulevard peak hour bus lane project.
The three choices: 8.7 miles of lanes including the Condo Canyon stretch in Westwood, 7.7 miles of lanes excluding Condo Canyon and 5.4 miles of bus lanes between Beverly’s Hills’ eastern border and just west of downtown L.A. The map above shows the 7.7-mile option approved last month by the Metro Board of Directors.
Here’s a quick Q & A on the vote tomorrow:
Why does the Council agenda recommend that the Council approve all three options?
This is because the five members of the Council’s transportation committee last week couldn’t agree which option to support. Even if they had reached some kind of concord, the final decision always rested with the full Council.
For the record, Council members Richard Alarcon and Bernard Parks voted for the 8.7-mile option, Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge for the 7.7-mile option and Bill Rosendahl for the 5.4-mile option. It’s worth noting that Koretz also voiced support for the 5.4-mile option, so his vote tomorrow will be interesting to watch.
Why does the Council’s approval of an option for the project matter?
The bus lanes sit on city and county land and need approval from Metro, the L.A. City Council and the Board of Supervisors in order to receive a federal grant of $23 million for the project, which has an estimated cost of $31.5 million. An agreement needs to happen by mid-July to qualify for the federal money, according to Metro officials.
What will likely be one focus of the Council’s discussion tomorrow?
The impact of the bus lanes on traffic on Wilshire near its junction with the 405 freeway. It’s an extremely congested corridor because of traffic traveling between the 405 and jobs in West L.A. and Santa Monica.
In particular, there will likely be a lot of discussion the stretch of Wilshire between Centinela and Barrington. In that .8-mile segment, the project would convert the curb lane — now open to traffic during the peak hours — to bus only lanes. Some residents in the Brentwood area have said that traffic is too great in that area to afford losing a lane.
Of course, there is a counter view: Metro and the city say the project will have a net benefit. That is, the project would speed up buses, which in the future would carry more people along the corridor than do private vehicles.
Metro staffers, by the way, say the bus lane could cut bus travel times by 25 percent.
And where is Metro on the project?
The Metro Board of Directors voted last month for the 7.7-mile option. If the city doesn’t agree, then the issue lands back in the lap of the Metro Board, who will have to find some type of agreement with the city. The Supervisors will likely go with the 7.7-mile option, considering the Supervisors also serve on the Metro Board.
How can I find out what the Council does on Tuesday?
Lucky for you, the City Council offers live and archived webcasts of their meetings, in addition to coverage on Channel 35 on cable outlets. In addition, we’ll have coverage here at The Source.
Here’s the latest report on the project by the city’s Department of Transportation.