Metro Details New "Light Rail on Wheels" Route for Pasadena, Could Remove Lane of Traffic

Dedicated route could remove traffic lanes along portions of Colorado Boulevard

Published : Thursday, February 28, 2019 | 6:30 AM

Artist's concept of a station for the proposed "Light Rail on Wheels" Pasadena to North Hollywood bus route, which could, as pictured, remove on traffic lane from general use along portions of Colorado Boulevard. Image courtesy Metro.

Representatives from Metro will present a proposed $267 million Measure M and SB1 “Light Rail on Wheels” project to Pasadena’s Transportation Committee Thursday, one that may involve incorporating a dedicated bus lane along portions of Colorado Boulevard which removes that lane from use by traffic.

According to a preview of the presentation, Metro claims the new line would “create an appealing, rail-like alternative to driving for commuters, visitors, and residents of Pasadena,” and “provide a key transit link to the City’s major employment, shopping and other activity centers.”

Various route options remain under consideration for the Pasadena portion of the route. Image courtesy of Metro

The route would also improve air quality by encouraging more transit use and use of quiet, zero-emissions buses, says Metro, who would also construct new streetscape enhancements around the new stations.

Should the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project be approved, it would begin construction in 2022, and be completed by 2024. The project is part of approximately 18 miles of BRT connecting Metro Gold Line to Metro Red/Orange Line via Colorado, Broadway, Brand, Glenoaks, Olive, and Lankershim.

A diagram of the BRT line in the presentation features a three-pronged route through Pasadena along Union, Colorado, and Green Street, with a station at Memorial Park. The plan also notes that “design options may be reduced after public scoping.”

Much like other proposed transportation plans for Pasadena’s major streets, the plan could face a major pushback from local residents and business owners. A “road diet” plan for Orange Grove Boulevard two years ago met with such opposition from neighbors that subsequent meetings were canceled and the plan was eventually scrapped.

Paul Little, CEO of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce voiced concerns over the line Wednesday, saying, “I am pleased this is in the preliminary stages, as the Chamber and our member businesses along Colorado Boulevard and Green Street are likely to have significant concerns with the loss of traffic lanes and potentially parking.”

“The other question that I hope is asked,” added Little, “is how this works with all the other plans the City of Pasadena has for our existing surface streets.”

Similar programs have been launched in other cities across the U.S. Portland, Oregon saw such a plan in 2013.

Elissa Gertler, a deputy director at the Metro regional government, and the supervisor of the two corridor planning efforts, said at the time, “There’s one big reason that interest in bus rapid transit may be overtaking light rail. First and foremost, light rail is expensive. A big capital investment costs a lot of money, and partnership with the federal government in how to fund that has diminished over time, as we’ve expanded our system in this region.”

According to the Metro presentation, the line would augment other transit services and regional travel options, as bus lanes could be shared by Pasadena Transit.

The line would also improve connection to the Metro Gold Line, says metro, and complement connections to Hollywood Burbank Airport.

In addition, according to the planned Metro presentation, the line would provide “high quality rapid transit service” to Pasadena City College.

According to a timeline provided by Metro, a Conceptual Engineering and Alternatives Analysis would run from March 2019 through April 2019.

Metro would then seek Metro Board approval to advance the project and its alternatives to an Environmental Impact Report. In May or June of 2019, Metro would release a Notice of Preparation and begin public scoping meetings. A Draft Environmental Impact Report would be released in the spring of 2020.

The Transportation Committee will meet Thursday in the City Hall Basement Grand Conference Room # S038, 100 North Garfield Avenue, at 4 p.m.

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