Committee recommends 7.7-mile bus lane for Wilshire Boulevard

The peak hour bus lane alternative embraced by the Metro Board's planning committee. Click above for a larger image.

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.

5 replies

  1. Wad you do make an excellent example of the floodgates of exemption that was opened up when Metro Board granted Condo Canyon its exemption. The fact that a 5.4 mile versus a 7.7 versus a 8.7 mile is even in consideration and being debated in this city with questions on whether or not to jeopardize federal funding would look crazy to any other city who missed out on the federal grant when LA took it from the other cities back when Metro had submitted funding request for a decent proposal. 3 years later they’ve “L.A. upped” it by proposing to cut the project out limb by limb setting one bad precedent over the other. This sure we’ll guarantee the leveraging of Small Starts funding and other transit earmarks in the future–I’m sure the Republican House would love this if it doesn’t become the next “bridge to nowhere”—nah it can’t be bad as what happened in Palin land–it is LA right?

  2. Oh, just return the funds.

    The Condo Canyon exemption sets a bad precedent. Here’s what I see happening.

    The next exemption will be for the Hancock Park/Windsor Village area, because the homeowners near Wilshire will say it’s unfair that they have a bus lane forced upon them while the people who look like them and make the same money as them in Condo Canyon don’t get one.

    The Windsor Village exemption is granted. So we have bus lanes removed from Wilton Place to La Brea Avenue.

    Now you have the Miracle Mile upset, but this time the businesses protest because bus lanes will only benefit Fairfax and La Brea. Metro then grants this exemption, and removes the Fairfax to Beverly Hills segment because it would look stupid to have an enormous gap between Wilton and Fairfax.

    At least we still have bus lanes that will duplicate the subway.

    Now the Wilshire Center property owners will point out that it’s unfair they have to be shouldered with the burden of bus lanes. It will make traffic worse and cause tenants to move out. Also, it duplicates the subway and makes the bus lanes redundant.

    Wilshire Center’s “good point” gets the bus lanes removed west of Park View.

    We’ve now effectively compromised ourselves to absolutely zero bus lanes. Now we have to return the money.

    The Metro Board doesn’t want to, but realizes that a Wilshire bus lane must be produced. So the staff figures out a clever way to get nothing for something.

    Since the Purple Line only goes as far as Western, L.A.’s new bus lanes will be between the west side of Western and the edge of El Pollo Loco (Charlie Chan Printing on the other side of the street) just before Wilton.

    The full money will then be split between paying more to the contractors and giving the rest as one-time compensation to property owners between Western and Wilton for the inconvenience caused by the construction and existence of the short bus lane.

    Metro will then prepare a report showing that a Rapid bus can now cover the distance between Western and Wilton in 1 minute whereas it took 2 without the bus lane. Rapids are now 50% faster!

    Best of all, everyone gets what they wanted. The project successfully cut travel time in half, making Metro and the feds happy. The people who didn’t want bus lanes don’t have to deal with them. Bus riders have the consolation that any bus lane is better than none at all, and besides, one minute saved translates to 520 minutes — or 8 2/3 hours — a year saved based on a roundtrip for five days a week, 52 weeks a year.

    Everyone gets their happy.

    This is the definition of how to “L.A. up” a project. We don’t make wrong choices, we make choices wrong.

  3. Love this project. Wilshire needs this until the Westside Subway, BUT cutting out “Condo Canyon” is a huge mistake. Every time I ride the 720, Condo Canyon is ALWAYS the slowdown, and no doubt its needs to be repaved soon. I wouldn’t let the residents dictate a much needed project for the county.