Published : Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | 5:34 AM
Last minutes changes to a new Los Angeles County Metro “light rail on wheels” bus plan which called for dedicating two traffic lanes along Colorado Boulevard into bus-only lanes through downtown Pasadena have appeased concerned City officials.
The dedicated bus lanes were eliminated from the proposed Bus Rapid Transit Route (BRT) between Pasadena and North Hollywood approved by the Metro Board on May 23.
Last month, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek called the dedicated bus lane concept a “nonstarter” and enlisted County Supervisor Katherine Barger’s help to postpone the plan long enough for Metro to reconsider its impact.
Cutting Colorado Boulevard’s traffic capacity in half, sending 60-foot articulated buses down the narrow boulevard, constructing new larger bus stop installations which would have to be dismantled every Jan. 1 to make way for the Rose Parade, all fanned fears within Pasadena City Hall, the local business community and neighborhood groups.
Now a Draft Environmental Impact Report will study the effect of BRT buses as part of the “mixed flow” of regular traffic.
Though he stepped away from his objections to moving forward with the previous bus plan, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek clearly isn’t thrilled about the project as presently constituted.
“The disappointment with this project is that the great hope from Pasadena — part of the reason that we raised this idea way back when — is that we were looking for some sort of extra bus service to the Burbank airport,” he said in an interview.
But the final bus route won’t go to the airport at all. In fact, it has evolved into a route which strikes out easterly to Pasadena City College and will duplicate portions of existing bus lines.
“Somehow this project has evolved into a form that does not get to the airport, and extends from Memorial Park East to PCC. And both of those developments are disappointing to us,” Tornek said earlier.
“On Colorado Boulevard, we have Foothill Transit, and we have Pasadena Transit. And of course, we have the Gold Line service that parallels Colorado Boulevard a couple of blocks to the north,” he said in April. “So this eastward extension to PCC just doesn’t make any sense.”
Tornek concedes the project’s new configuration it will be of value to those living in Pasadena who work in Glendale or Burbank, and vice versa.
Metro estimates the planned San Gabriel-San Fernando Valley Busway would move between 23,000 and 30,000 riders every day. Those numbers have been disputed by opponents of the proposed bus line.
Metro said the project is estimated to cost as much as $448 million; $267 million of which will come from voter-approved Measure M funds. It might begin operation as early as 2022, or as late as 2024, according to the agency.
With the changes approved, the next step includes feasibility and environmental impact studies of the three proposed alternatives for the 18-mile route.
These include: an all-freeway route primarily along the 134 Freeway; a street route along Colorado Boulevard, Glenoaks Boulevard, Olive Avenue, Riverside Drive and Lankershim Blvd; and a course that makes use of freeways and surface streets alike.
Staff chose the latter, freeway/surface streets “hybrid” as its preferred alternative, Metro said, “because it has the most public support and offers the most connectivity to jobs, housing and other destinations.”
The decision to move forward on the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) and feasibility study was put off at Metro’s April meeting when Supervisor Kathryn Barger (R) said she needed to hear more from city officials in her district who were making dissonant noises about the project as proposed.
“I believe that having Pasadena sign on is going to make this a better end product,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Katherine Barger prior to the meeting. “I’d like to go on record and say that the Old Town Pasadena really is, at least from my district, a crown jewel of the area and we must take care to ensure that we incorporate compatibility with the historic fabric of that district.”
“Bus rapid transit,” Metro said on its website, “is a high-quality bus service that provides faster and more frequent service with features that may include dedicated bus lanes, branded vehicles and stations, off-board fare collection and all-door boarding.”
“Now they’re moving into the DEIR portion of it,” said Metro spokesman Brian Haas. “We will be having scoping meetings beginning in early July, where people will have another opportunity to come and take a look at the project as proposed and then give us feedback on various aspects of it.”