City Council to Consider Two Traffic Projects

The City Council is expected on Friday to consider whether to take the next step on two traffic projects that, if approved, would be funded in their entirety by L.A. Metro.
Should the panel approve the proposals, which Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne has refined based on community input, city officials would then meet with Metro to ensure the projects fall within the funding scope and develop a funding agreement draft. The City Council would have to consider and approve that agreement at a later meeting.
The two proposals being considered would make modifications along Huntington Drive at school sites in an effort to alleviate school-related congestion and also make changes at the Atlantic Boulevard intersection with Huntington, Garfield Avenue and Los Robles Avenue in an effort to ease the flow of travel and send through traffic toward Fair Oaks Avenue and away from Los Robles.
The City Council controversially decided to continue with refinement to these two proposals, which were among five under initial consideration. A vocal contingent of residents has insisted the city shelve the projects altogether, claiming that Metro’s aim in funding the projects is only to direct waves of San Gabriel Valley traffic through surface streets.
Several other cities are moving forward with their own Metro-funded traffic projects, which were born from the demise of the 710 tunnel project that Metro tried for decades to fund and complete. When the Metro board decided to finally end that project, it also decided to dole out the $780 million generated from the Measure R sales tax to area cities that would have been impacted by the tunnel, deeming the piecemeal local projects a better alternative to address traffic congestion between the 10 and 210 freeways.
Consideration of the proposals elicited confusion from much of the community. Whereas cities will normally assign funding before beginning to work on designs for a project, the nature of these projects meant that the city began with a blueprint that it had to modify before committing to a funding agreement. The proposals are themselves based on the alternate builds that were sketched out by Metro as a requirement for the tunnel’s environmental impact report.
Although most of the City Council members echoed residents in rejecting some of the other proposals — such as traffic signal synchronization — Councilman Steve Talt lobbied hard to retain the two proposals being considered. The city should, he argued, explore any options that could benefit its schools and retaining the Atlantic-Huntington proposal that represents the city’s only opportunity to have a strong say in the intersection, which it jointly owns with South Pasadena and Alhambra.
Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey — whose strong opposition to the proposals resonated with the residents — also sided in favor of retaining the school-centric proposal. However, she and Mayor Steven Huang remained skeptical on the Atlantic-Huntington proposal, creating a deadlock vote at the time. That proposal was eventually retained at the subsequent meeting, by a unanimous vote.
Depending on how they think about Throne’s refinements, City Council members might simply toss these two remaining proposals out with the rest on Friday. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. on Friday in the Barth Room at Crowell Public Library.

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