On a rainy night last March, City leaders gathered in a college auditorium to discuss a “road diet” for Orange Grove Boulevard, part of the City’s “Complete Streets” mobilization plan.
Hundreds of community members fiercely opposed to the plan filled the auditorium.
The day after that meeting, City Manager Steve Mermell postponed further discussions of an Orange Grove road diet and said city staff was reassessing approaches to traffic safety.
This was not the place for this program, Mermell said. “We will find consensus somewhere else.”
Perhaps the right place is Cordova Street.
Tuesday night’s Cordova Street Enhancements Project community meeting at First United Methodist Church saw support emerge for the plan to remove two vehicular traffic lanes along Cordova from Arroyo Parkway to Hill Avenue and to add bike lanes in both directions, a painted median, and pedestrian curb extensions to shorten crossing times at all intersections.
“I think the reception from the group here has been quite positive,” said Councilmember Andy Wilson, “and I think the idea is, that no one is against increasing our bike infrastructure, but [if it comes] at the cost of increasing traffic congestion, people are reticent. The idea of Cordova not being a heavily trafficked street makes people say, ‘Oh, that makes a lot of sense.’”
Former City of Pasadena development administrator Marsha Rood voiced concerns about the format of the meeting itself, however.
“There is no formal presentation explained,” she said, of the informal open house meeting. “It’s just section by section. Secondly, it isn’t clear how any citizen participation or comments can be integrated into the design with the project [already] 60% completed. Maybe it took place ten years ago, but not recently.”
Pasadena resident Blair Miller was more positive about the evening, saying, “Personally, I’m pretty excited about the project. I think there’s been a lot of great questions tonight about reasons why the City is doing things a certain way, but it seems like overall, it seems that people are really positive about the idea of the reconfiguration of Cordova, so that’s nice.”
For Pasadena resident Kathy Braidhill, safety improvements on Cordova Street, are a far more serious issue. She was hit by a car on Cordova Street in November of 2011.
“That took two years out of my life,” she said Tuesday.
While pleased that the City is recognizing bicycle safety, Braidhill said, adamantly, “Pasadena is so far behind other metropolitan cities. We’re in the horse-and-buggy era when it comes to allowing people who want to want to use other modes of transportation to do so. This is just a modicum of change, we are way behind in our infrastructure.”
In 2011, Cordova Street between Lake Avenue and Hill Avenue was re-striped to reduce traffic speeds, according to the project overview. Safer, non-motorized, and pedestrian improvements were also added. The striping configurations consisted of a two-lane divided arterial without protected bike lanes for cyclists. Cordova Street west of Lake Avenue transitions to a four-lane divided arterial without protected bike lanes.
The 2014 project is said to be consistent with the City of Pasadena updated Mobility Element objectives that enumerate streets should “reflect neighborhood character and accommodate all users,” such as pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit, skateboarders and scooters; reflect individual neighborhood character and needs, and “support healthy activities such as walking and bicycling.”
The proposed new project, from Arroyo Parkway to Hill Street, will convert the street to a “complete street” environment to improve safety and accessibility along Cordova Street, according to the project overview.
More information about the project is available at www.cityofpasadena.net/CordovaStreetEnhancements. Residents may also write Cordova@cityofpasadena.net to provide input on the project.