Planning for Eastside Access project kicks off

Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar, at left, and Metro CEO Art Leahy at today's press event in Boyle Heights.

Los Angeles City Councilman and Metro Board Member Jose Huizar held a press event this morning to discuss the Eastside Access project, which aims to make streetscape improvements in Boyle Heights and the Eastside near the Gold Line and help a burgeoning arts district in the area.

Like many parts of L.A. County, this is an area that could use better sidewalks and street lighting, to name just a couple of fixes on the way.

Serious planning for the project — which is funded by Measure R — is now getting underway and a Community Advisory Committee was recently formed to help advise Metro and the city of Los Angeles on the improvements. Construction is expected to begin in a year.

Details are in the following press release from Councilman Huizar’s office:

First Measure R Eastside Project Kicks-Off

Boyle Heights Arts District enhancements key to Mariachi Plaza section of $30 million Eastside Access Project — streetscape improvements to increase pedestrian/bicycle access in communities surrounding the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 3, 2010)—Metro CEO Art Leahy and Councilmember José Huizar were joined Friday by First Street merchants and artists to announce the kick-off of a $12 million section of the voter-approved Eastside Access Project, a Measure R plan that will bring sidewalk, lighting and streetscape improvements along First Street in Boyle Heights.

Part of the larger $30 million Eastside Access Project, which will focus on multi-modal transit-related improvements at or near the Metro Eastside Gold Line Extension route, the Boyle Heights component will improve access along Boyle Heights’ four stations (Indiana, Soto, Mariachi Plaza and Pico Aliso) and is expected to enhance the burgeoning Boyle Heights Arts District along First Street, which features galleries, theaters and a local bookstore.

In 2008, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R, a 1/2 cent sales tax to be used on transit improvements.
“Enhancing access and amenities around the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension stations is a smart use of Measure R dollars,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “Working with Councilman Huizar and the City of Los Angeles, Metro looks forward to creating an exciting environment that will draw new riders into the transit system while showcasing the best this community has to offer.”

Community input in this project is critical and on Friday, Leahy and Huizar introduced members of the project’s Community Advisory Committee, A.R.T.E.S, a consortium of local artists, as well as CityWorks Design, the design team that will work with the community and stakeholders on a design plan for the area.

“Improving our streetscapes and access along the Gold Line, particularly here in our burgeoning Boyle Heights Arts District and Mariachi Plaza will help local artists, musicians, businesses and the Gold Line increase foot traffic, which is a win-win for all of us,” said Councilmember José Huizar, who also sits on the Board of Directors for Metro.

Metro will oversee the planning and initial design and partner with the City of Los Angeles who will oversee construction. Metro and the consultant team will also explore other funding sources and partnering opportunities that can create a sustainable and thriving environment once this initial project is completed.

This is intended to be a model project for Metro and the City of Los Angeles for achieving improvements in a faster timeframe. The design concepts are scheduled to be completed by summer 2011 with implementation on some elements beginning sooner.

Councilmember Huizar has been working with local artists and A.R.T.E.S. to support a Boyle Heights Arts District and earlier brought in Graduate students from U.C.L.A. Professor Leo Estrada’s Urban Design class to work on a community Arts District Plan. Councilmember Huizar is also working with the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency on identifying local parcels to house artists, as well as rehabilitating some of the area’s historic property to preserve its existing character.

This public improvement project continues a trend of unprecedented public investment in Boyle Heights. By the end of 2009, Boyle Heights saw $1.4 billion in public improvements, including the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension, four new schools, a new police station, as well as several park and pool upgrades.

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