Published : Saturday, June 22, 2019 | 4:53 AM
In April, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek stepped up and informed the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) board of directors that absconding with two traffic lanes of Colorado Boulevard to run its new Hollywood to Pasadena bus rapid route was nonstarter.
Certain neighboring Eagle Rockers, with whom Pasadenans shares the emblematic stretch of urban roadway, are of the same mind and have organized in response.
Activism in response to the bus rapid route has crystallized around the website EagleRock411.com. There, a laundry list of familiar local concerns around most traffic-altering projects can be found.
Eagle Rock 411 said that street parking, car lanes, grassy medians, old-growth trees and bike lanes are all “fair game,” in Metro’s efforts to establish the dedicated bus lines.
The change in traffic patterns could both divert traffic and push street parking into residential areas, according to the group. Construction could run as long as two years and represent a financial strain to local, small businesses.
It is noted that the planned establishment of two dedicated bus lanes would represent the most significant change to the artery in Eagle Rock since the closing of the Five Line trolley system in 1955.
Tornek prevailed, and Colorado Boulevard will remain as-is through Pasadena.
Eagle Rock is not an incorporated city and does not have so forceful a tool as a committed mayor at its disposal. It has a Neighborhood Council; one of more than 90 in the City of Los Angeles.
Metro spokesman Ben Haas said that doesn’t mean they have no recourse or voice. Metro is launching a series of five “scoping” meetings where the kind of feedback the denizens of Eagle Rock are venting can be received by folks that matter in the process.
That is the point of the public comment period required during preparation of a draft environmental impact report, a process which the Metro board approved May 23.
The comment period closes July 31. A schedule with the wheres and whens of the scoping meetings will be released June 24, according to Hass.
“The purpose of the meetings is for us to get feedback from the community on how best to craft this project and find out what some of the environmental impacts might be,” he explained. “There is room for feedback on whatever folks feel strongly about.”
The scoping meetings are not the only avenue for being heard. The project has its own website where comments can be posted as well (See below).
If some of the commentary has come in the form of particularly strong coffee, Hass made it clear that such is fine from Metro’s perspective.
“If people are passionate about it, that’s good,” he stated. “We also want to hear from people who need to use this type of service. We want to hear from those impacted by use of the route as much as those impacted without using it.”
Once the public comment period on the proposed route is completed, Metro staff will amend the route, and environs, to address at least some of the feedback prior to putting the route before the board for final approval.
The project will not be realized at any breakneck speed, Haas emphasized. “We do it slower to get it right.” Completion of the project, he said, could happen anywhere between 2022 and 2024.
Metro believes the project is necessary and estimates some 23,000 to 30,000 riders will take advantage of the service. Opponents have disputed both the supposition and the ridership numbers. The estimated cost is $448 million, with $267 million of that to be drawn from voter-approved Measure M funds.
It is an 18-mile hybrid route of freeway and surface streets chosen by Metro staff as the agency’s preferred alternative.
The project website can be found at https://www.metro.net/