Mother Lodes for the Roads: $137 Metro Millions for Pasadena

Pasadena officials get early holiday present, Metro's money will fuel a tidal wave of transportation projects across the City

Published : Monday, September 30, 2019 | 4:38 AM

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) board approved Sept. 26, funding for $136,850,000-worth of traffic improvements in Pasadena.

The appropriation was part of an overall $297 million appropriated for San Gabriel Valley-area transportation initiatives.

The funds were tied up in the 710 freeway extension project. Its demise resulted in their reallocation to mobility improvement projects aimed at resolving the same traffic problems the original project was proposed to fix.

The process of finding new uses for what were Measure R funds started back in May 2017 with a Metro Board motion. Planning, study and environmental review were all part of the road to paving for the roads.

“It’s been our contention, for a long time, that there were a lot of important transportation improvement and traffic flow improvement projects that could be getting done that weren’t because the region was paralyzed by the specter of the 710 project,” said Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek in an interview last week.

He observed that the $137 sum reallocated for Pasadena-area projects, “is not chump change. It’s a pretty big chunk out of the total list.”

The funding, Tornek emphasized, is not merely for road work, rather is geared to making “critical decisions in the transportation network that will make it easier for people to get around.”

The biggest recipient, he pointed out, was the Gold Line grade separation project at California Boulevard. Metro set aside $125 million for right-of-way and construction.

“That’s a critical project for us,” said Tornek.

Board meeting documents said the Gold Line intersection with California Boulevard causes congestion while cutting off pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between neighborhoods east and west of the train tracks.

Most of the projects funded by Metro were on Pasadena’s SR 710 North Early Action Project “wish list” sent by the Council to Metro in January 2018.

A project to modify intersections at the California Boulevard 710 Freeway offramps and the Pasadena Avenue northbound onramp got $2.6 million. That project could result in the closureof the 710 Freeway southbound offramp which currently empties onto South Saint John Avenue and California Boulevard.

Additionally, $850,000 were reallocated for an upgrading of the traffic signal at Fair Oaks Avenue and Bellevue Drive.

The Walnut Street Corridor Signal Improvement Project was the recipient of another $4.1 million.

A project upgrading flow throughout Pasadena with new traffic signal controllers and cabinets, fiber-optics communication, and signal preemption technology, is slated to receive a $3.8 million boost.

“We’ve been criticized for only focusing on bicycle lanes and pedestrian enhancements, and they are an important part of the Complete Streets strategy,” said Tornek. “But we haven’t forgotten that the vast majority of people get around in their cars and all of these projects relate to improving vehicular transportation in Pasadena.”

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