Rail-to-river

Metro Offers Update on Rail-to-River Bike/Ped Path Design; Project to Break Ground Mid-2018

From LA.Streetsblog.org

 

On June 29, Metro held a public update on the Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path project slated for the Slauson corridor in South L.A.

The update was to showcase the design progress on Segment A (in green, above) thus far, get feedback on the proposed design, and advise the community of next steps.

For those unfamiliar with the project, the Rail-t0-River project is an Active Transportation Corridor planned for the Metro-owned rail right-of-way (ROW) along Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles. The 6.4 mile stretch of Segment A was planned to facilitate transit users’ movement between the Crenshaw, Silver, Blue, and local bus Lines, while Segment B (in pink) would connect South L.A. with the Southeast Cities and, eventually, the L.A. River, expanding the regional bicycle network.

Because Metro must negotiate with Union Pacific to access the ROW along Randolph Street (the route chosen for Segment B) and work out plans with the cities the route will pass through, planning for Segment A has moved at a much quicker pace. Metro expects to see the preliminary (30 percent) design completed shortly and to hire a design/build construction contractor to finish the plans and break ground by mid-2018.

The project would be completed in late 2019, around the time that the Crenshaw/LAX Line would be opening.

 

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Metro Explores Alternative Rail-to-River Routes Through Southeast Cities

From Streetsblog.org

 

In thinking about the potential routes the eastern segment (B) of the Rail-to-River (R2R) active transportation corridor might take, stressed Mark Lopez of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, it was important that the needs of workers, youth, and community members of the Southeast Cities be put front and center. Connectivity to job centers and schools should therefore be the first priority.

Through that lens, Lopez said, the bike path project could offer momentum for the creation of other potential “job trails” EYCEJ had already been thinking about, including connections to Vernon, and Commerce, a path along Slauson that would facilitate connections across the L.A. River and the 710 Freeway to the Bell Cheli Industrial area, and routes enhancing greater access to the river and green spaces like Riverfront Park.

 

I had reached out to Lopez for feedback after attending Metro’s mid-afternoon session on the R2R project held last Wednesday in Huntington Park. The R2R project – a dedicated bike and pedestrian path that will stretch between the Crenshaw and Blue Lines, and to (or through) the Southeast cities to the east – is much-needed in the park-poor and truck-dominated corridors of the communities of South Central and Southeast Los Angeles.

Class i bike facilities. Source: Feasibility Study

Class I bike facilities separate and protect cyclists from cars. Source: Feasibility Study

But many of the participants, I realized as we gathered around the tables to decide how to serve Southeast residents’ needs best, were not from the area and/or not very familiar with where people worked or how they got there. All of which made speaking to Metro’s purpose for the meeting – discussing and ranking the four alternatives for Segment B of the active transportation corridor – somewhat difficult.

Metro’s own 2014 feasibility study had determined that the Randolph Street option should be prioritized. It would not necessarily be the easiest choice – the rail right-of-way (ROW) is owned by Union Pacific, meaning that the cost of acquisition could be quite high and the negotiations involved in acquiring the ROW could take some time. But factors in its favor included the length the route would cover (4.34 miles), user experience, connectivity, safety, transit connections, ease of implementation (see p. 76), and the fact that it would allow cyclists to continue on a dedicated Class I bike path (a separated and protected path, at right). And because the ROW is as wide as 60′ in some sections, it would allow for the inclusion of many or more of the amenities present on the western and central segments of the path.

Users would not have to move back and forth between busy streets and dedicated Class I facilities or lose the bike and pedestrian paths altogether, as they would with the Utility Corridor or Slauson routes. It would also offer users a safe, protected, and lengthy east-west connection through a densely populated and semi-industrial section of Los Angeles usually dominated by heavy traffic and large trucks.

Although, like Randolph Street, the Malabar route would be able to provide users with a dedicated and protected path, it narrows considerably (which would push pedestrians aside) as it makes its way north toward Washington Blvd. It would also move users through less secure industrial areas with fewer connections to transit, residential neighborhoods, commercial corridors, or educational centers. Also, as in the case of Randolph Street, the use of the Malabar Yards ROW would require negotiations with BNSF to get it to abandon its rights to the ROW east of Santa Fe Ave.

All that said, it was still not 100 per cent clear to me which route would better connect residents with their jobs.

A form of demand modeling that summarized the total population and jobs within three miles of the segment and divided that total by the segment length suggested that the Malabar route might serve approximately 100,000 more bicycle trips annually than Randolph Street.

 

Read more here.