Metro's Decisions Thursday About Two Local Transportation Projects Could Affect the Pasadena Area for Years to Come

About $150 million in recommended Measure R-funded projects in Pasadena and South Pasadena to be voted on Thursday

Published : Wednesday, December 5, 2018 | 5:37 AM

Metro will consider funding construction of either an overpass or underpass at the intersection of California Blvd. and the Gold Line in west Pasadena, one of 34 mobility improvement projects which Metro’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee unanimously approved Wednesday to finally respond to calls for alternative projects after Metro’s Board of Directors dropped the I-710 Freeway extension project.

[UPDATED]  With the 710 Freeway Extension project officially off the table, the Metro Board will meet Thursday to vote on spending the now available $515 million in allocated Measure R funds for scores of transportation and mobility projects throughout Los Angeles County. Two of the recommended projects, totaling about $150 million, are in Pasadena and South Pasadena, including a Gold Line grade separation at California Boulevard.

“We’re finding important ways to spend that money,” said Mayor Terry Tornek Tuesday. Metro will “allocate not all of the money, but a portion to transportation projects, instead of a freeway that was never going to get built, in my estimation.”

“Now, real projects are going to start to get built with it,” said Tornek, “and for Pasadena, it means the grade separation (for) the Gold Line at California Boulevard, and for Alhambra it means a bunch of freeway interchange improvements, and for South Pasadena, they’re going to try and clean up the interchange on South Fair Oaks.”

Tornek emphasized Tuesday that local cities are now working together, and “moving in the right direction.”

“The cities are now talking cooperatively about how we can interact and bring in projects that will really improve transportation in the region,” said Tornek. “And we’re doing it in a cooperative basis rather than litigation and conflict.”

The Pasadena-Gold Line Grade Separation, estimated to cost $100 million, would eliminate the train gates at California Boulevard, with either a bridge over the tracks or an underpass.

As described in the Metro agenda staff report, “This segment of the Gold Line intersects California Boulevard, an east-west arterial street with high traffic volumes, resulting in substantial delay and congestion.

“This at-grade crossing,” the report stated, “also contributes to a lack of pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between neighborhoods east and west of the Gold Line. This project has a nexus to the I-710 North project since this at-grade crossing is in close proximity to the I-710 “gap,” and grade-separating California Boulevard at the Gold Line will greatly improve traffic flow not only in the east-west direction but also in the north-south direction.”

In South Pasadena, a series of regional traffic corridor improvements along Fremont Avenue, Huntington Drive, and Fair Oaks Avenue, would implement upgraded traffic control measures and synchronize signals throughout each of these major arterial corridors, according to the Metro report.

The plan would also restripe Fremont Avenue to increase capacity and remove some existing on-street parking, extend merge lanes, and re-design certain movements, according to Metro.

On Huntington Drive, between Fremont Avenue and Fair Oaks Avenue, the plan would add a second northbound left-turn lane and adjust signal timing accordingly. The plan would also extend northbound the Fair Oaks Avenue left-turn pocket at Monterey Road.

“Bulb-outs” would be also replaced with right-turn pockets on Fair Oaks Ave at Monterey, El Centro, Mission and Hope. Crosswalks would also be highlighted by realigning and/or using continental or ladder striping, along with widening medians for pedestrian refuge, said the recommendation report.

The report noted, “All three major arterial streets are within the I-710 ‘Gap’, and Fair Oaks and Freemont are north-south arterials, so these improvements will improve traffic flow within the “Gap” area.”

The second South Pasadena project at the 110 onramp at State Street, estimated at $38 million would, according to the Metro report, reconstruct a new southbound SR-110 “hook” onramp accessible via eastbound State Street, east of Fair Oaks Avenue; restripe northbound Fair Oaks Avenue between Grevelia Street and State Street to replace northbound left-turn lanes with a right-turn lane continuing onto a new right-turn lane to be built on the south side of State Street; and remove the existing traffic island at the current SR-110 on-ramp.

An existing bulb-out on northbound Fair Oaks Avenue between Hope Street and Grevelia Street would be removed in order to provide a shared through and right-turn lane, said the report, and the left-turn lane would be replaced with a through lane.

On southbound Fair Oaks Avenue north of the existing southbound on-ramp, the existing right-turn lane to the north of Oaklawn Street would be extended, and truncate Grevelia Street between Fair Oaks Avenue and Mount Avenue.

The northbound SR-110 off-ramp would be widened and restriped for two left-turn lanes, one through lane, and one right-turn lane. The project would also add a second right-turn lane on westbound Grevelia Street at Fair Oaks Avenue, construct a new southbound SR-110 “hook” onramp accessible via eastbound State Street, east of Fair Oaks Avenue; remove a bulb-out on northbound Fair Oaks Avenue prior to the Orchard Supply Hardware shopping center driveway; and relocate the current bus stop to the far side of the intersection.

Mayor Tornek was quick to point out that the projects will take years to complete.

“Some of them will take longer than others,” he said. “Doing the actual project of grade-separating California Boulevard, and the Gold Line is going to take a couple of years to realize. There’s going to have to be a whole planning process and environmental process, a design process, public hearings and discussion, actual design, and then construction. I mean, you won’t see the train going over in a grade-separated way on California Boulevard for three years.”

“But at least,” said Tornek, “we’re moving in an affirmative direction and people are going to start to see results and surface transportation is going to be improved, and people will realize that this money that they allocated years ago is finally going to be spent in a way that’s going to benefit the traveling public. And I think that’s what the people want to see, the people want to see action and improvements.”

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