Road Diet Opposition Group Reportedly Grows in Wake of Orange Grove Boulevard Project Postponement

Tonight’s Transportation Advisory Commission meeting will update community on Orange Grove Blvd. repaving project, Union Street Bikeway

Published : Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 5:31 AM

Members of Keep Pasadena Moving seen at the March 22, 2018 public meeting about the proposed Orange Grove Boulevard repaving project. Courtesy photo.

Members of Keep Pasadena Moving seen at the March 22, 2018 public meeting about the proposed Orange Grove Boulevard repaving project. Courtesy photo.

As Pasadena’s Transportation Advisory Commission prepares to meet Thursday after a bike-friendly road diet proposal for Orange Grove Boulevard was put on hold, organizers of a grassroots neighborhood opposition group say their ranks continue to swell.

According to Pasadena’s Department of Transportation Director, Fred Dock, the repaving of Orange Grove Boulevard east of Lake Avenue, where a “road diet” reducing traffic lanes to one lane each way, augmented by a center two-way turn lane, is now postponed for approximately one year to allow for the construction of a new water main.

“The timing for construction of the water main has not been specifically determined but will likely occur in calendar 2019 and will likely involve trenching in Orange Grove Boulevard for a number of months,” Dock said.

Dock added that the Public Works Department is currently preparing the design for pavement resurfacing and concrete work necessary for the delayed repaving project.  Since repaving work cannot begin until the water main is installed, the soonest it could start is likely late 2019 with completion in 2020, he said.

The Department of Transportation is also beginning an effort to determine what elements of Complete Street Design will be incorporated into the repaving project, according to Dock.

“This activity involves convening a working group of affected parties with which to discuss corridor needs and objectives and how potential design elements may address those,” said Dock in an email earlier this month.

That effort is “currently underway” and will continue throughout 2018, Dock added.

The group’s leader say that between 300 and 400 East and Central Pasadena residents have joined together to form a grassroots organization, Keep Pasadena Moving (KPM), with the goal of “promoting safe streets and common sense alternatives to the proposed Orange Grove Boulevard Road Diet project.”

According to a statement, the new citizen’s group mobilized hundreds of Pasadena residents for a March 22 public meeting about the proposed lane reductions on Orange Grove Blvd. to voice their opposition. The new organization is also distributing hundreds of yard signs along Orange Grove Blvd. and throughout East and Central Pasadena, calling for the City to “Stand with Local Residents” and to “Stop Orange Grove Lane Reductions.”

At the public meeting, Mayor Terry Tornek expressed the City’s intent to work collaboratively with concerned neighborhood groups to explore consensus-based alternatives that would have a great impact on the safety of neighborhood streets, the group said.

“Last month, Pasadena residents who would be most impacted by the road diet spoke out, and the City listened,” said Pasadena resident Frank Duerr, a leader of the newly formed organization. “However, even though a large majority of residents oppose the proposal, the Orange Grove road diet plan is not dead. We want the City to work with residents to come up with common sense alternatives. And we appreciate that the City listened to the concerns expressed by the people who will be most impacted by the diet on Orange Grove.”

Duerr says Keep Pasadena Moving will continue to educate residents about the proposal and continue to mobilize them as alternatives to the road diet emerge.

“We continue to distribute yard signs,” says Duerr, “and we urge residents to continue to display them until the city presents us with viable alternatives to the Orange Grove Road Diet.”

In addition to its initial mobilization efforts, Keep Pasadena Moving primarily consists of East Pasadena residents (drivers, walkers and cyclists) who seek to engage greater Pasadena in the consideration of road diets and their appropriateness on the streets identified in the Mobility Element of the General Plan.

“It’s vital that the City continue to listen to residents,” says Duerr.

“Keep Pasadena Moving is dedicated to providing Pasadena residents with more of a voice on issues that impact our neighborhood streets, traffic and quality of life,” Duerr said, adding that Keep Pasadena Moving will host community information sessions to raise awareness and update residents about the City’s mobility projects and urge them to make their views heard.

Meanwhile, the City’s Orange Grove Boulevard Lane Configuration Project and the Union Street bike lane project, are both on the agenda for the meeting, according to Duerr, whose group continues to gain members.

“(Our) group still is growing,” said Duerr Wednesday. “There’s a public Facebook page, but there’s also a private Facebook page.”

The group also maintains a website at www.keeppasadenamoving.com.

Transportation Advisory Committee Chair Greg Gunther said Wednesday that “one of the things that is inherent here is the interplay between safety and people’s willingness to use a particular mode of transportation. So, really what we’re looking at overall is a situation where there is probably less pedestrian activity and less cyclist activity, because of the fact that people don’t feel safe on the street, so it becomes a vicious cycle if we can improve the safety on the street, more people are showing they’ll come out and be much more comfortable riding.

“No one is trying to force anybody out of their automobile, but it is important that the public realm offers a variety of modes of travel for the public,” Gunther added.

The commission, composed of nine members, advises the City Council concerning policies affecting Pasadena’s transportation system.

The agenda is available here.

Thursday’s meeting starts at 4 p.m. at the Department of Transportation office at 221 E. Walnut Street, Room 210. Public comments on matters not on the agenda are allowed early in the meeting.

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