Route and Final Design for NoHo Bus Rapid Transit Project in Pasadena Approved by Metro Board

UPDATE, APRIL 29: Metro’s board of directors unanimously approved the route and final design at its April 28 meeting. Metro will continue to work with stakeholders and cities to resolve the issues raised. The original Source post with project details is below – it was first posted on April 13.

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The Original Source message:

One of the missing links in our transit system has been a good connection between the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, which serves key destinations and is easily accessible through neighborhoods.

There is good news on this front. The route and the final environmental study for a new 19-mile bus rapid transit route between North Hollywood and Pasadena will be considered by Metro’s board of directors this month (the project’s homepage is here). The project is officially known as the North Hollywood to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project and is receiving $317 million in funding from Measure M – the 2016 LA County voter-approved sales tax – and of State Bill 1.

The approval of the route and the study are an important step towards the realization of the project. Once the board takes action, Metro can begin obtaining building permits from cities along the route and move the project into its final design phase. The goal is to open the project in 2024.

A map of the proposed route is above. The project includes approximately 11.3 miles of bus-only lanes and would run primarily on local streets between the B (red) line station in NoHo and Pasadena City College. Major stations are located in the Burbank Media District, Downtown Burbank, Downtown Glendale, the Eagle Rock Commercial Corridor along Colorado Boulevard, and Old Pasadena – where there is a line connection L (Gold).

Unlike Metro’s existing 501 bus that runs much of its route on Highway 134, this new line would run primarily through neighborhoods and be easier for riders to reach. With the project, travel times would decrease by 30 to 40% compared to the existing bus service in the corridor. For example, from downtown Glendale, it would only take 30 minutes to get to PCC, which is 18 minutes longer than current journeys.

To be clear: this is an ambitious project (see below for more on two segments in particular). Metro currently operates two bus rapid transit lines — that is, bus lines designed to be faster — but they both have their own right-of-way. Line G (Orange) in the San Fernando Valley runs on its own bus lane built on top of an old rail line, while Line J (Silver) between El Monte and San Pedro primarily uses ExpressLanes on freeways 10 and 110.

This project is our first bus rapid transit line that would primarily use local streets. That’s why Metro is working with cities and local residents to determine where dedicated bus lanes are appropriate and how to minimize impacts on traffic and parking.

The detailed map below shows the different segments of the route, while graphics explain the differences between the segments.

The graphs below show the difference between the different configurations.

Curbside bus lanes are adjacent to the curb, eliminating parking or limiting parking to times when the bus lane is not operational.

Side traffic lanes dedicate the right traffic lane to buses and are separated from the sidewalk by bike lanes, parking lanes or both, and may allow private vehicles to turn right from the curb lane at intersections to reduce conflicts with buses.

Central traffic bus lanes generally provide two lanes (one for each direction of travel) and may be separated from adjacent traffic by short raised curbs or carriageway markings.

In the median segments, the bus travels in reserved lanes next to a median (ie the left lane – the most in the direction of travel). Stations can be placed inside the platform (for buses with left side doors).

Mixed flow allows buses to move from one reserved lane configuration to another, or when traffic, operational or geometric constraints make a dedicated lane impractical.

In particular, there are two parts of the route that have generated the most public debate.

The first is a 1.3 mile segment along Olive Avenue in Burbank. In this segment, the road would be reconfigured. The number of general traffic lanes would be reduced from two to one in each direction to accommodate a side traffic lane. The top renders show what Olive looks like now and the bottom render after the project is built:

Other key points on this segment:

•Olive would not be expanded for the project.

• The existing 299 parking spaces will be retained on Olive between Buena Vista and Lake.

•Cars can use the bus lane to turn right and access the aisles and parking lane.

•The sidewalks will remain as they are.

•Traffic studies show that travel times on Olive for motorists would cause some automobile traffic to use other major arteries instead of Olive. However, the same studies show that very few cars would divert to neighborhood streets, as these streets do not save time.

Another segment that has been the subject of intense public debate is the segment on Colorado Boulevard via Eagle Rock between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Linda Rosa Avenue near the SR-134 slide ramps.

In this segment, the Colorado would be reduced from two to one lane of general traffic in each direction. The bus lanes would be next to the medians in the center of the road – and these medians would be preserved and expanded.

The top render shows what Colorado Boulevard looks like now and the bottom shows what it would look like with the one lane option:

A few key points about this segment:

•Approximately 198 of the 319 existing parking spaces on Colorado Boulevard would be preserved. The existing 763 spaces on the side streets would also be retained.

• Most left turn lanes at traffic lights would remain — and two additional traffic lights would be added for left turns at Eagle Vista Drive and Hermosa Avenue. Some left-turn lanes would be lengthened to accommodate more vehicles. Some left turns at small intersections would be eliminated for safety reasons.

•Metro’s Business Solutions Center would be used to assist small businesses in Eagle Rock during construction of the Project.

• Traffic analysis shows that there would be additional congestion at both ends of this segment — where the two general traffic lanes merge into a single lane. However, Metro studies also found that approximately 20% of traffic on Colorado would be diverted to Interstates 134 and/or 2, resulting in a reduction in the total number of vehicles on Colorado.

•Studies have also shown that few vehicles would be diverted onto neighborhood streets. The reason: These streets are slower and less direct than staying on the Colorado, even with the reduced traffic lanes.

•Emergency vehicles would be allowed to use bus lanes, which could lead to faster response times.

The article will be heard at the Planning and Programming Committee meeting on Wednesday, April 20 starting at 10:30 a.m. — listen/watch the live stream here. JThe Metro’s full board is scheduled to hear this article on Thursday, April 28, starting at 10:00 a.m. – listen/watch here.

Here are some other renderings of the project:

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