After four years of stops and starts, MyFigueroa, the $20 million proposal to transform Los Angeles’ Figueroa Corridor from a regional throughway to a bike– and pedestrian-friendly destination, appears to be moving ahead. Overseen by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) with design assistance from Melendrez, Troller Mayer Associates, and Gehl Architects, MyFigueroa will add separated cycle tracks or buffered bike lanes, bike racks, and improved transit shelters, lighting, and landscaping to 4.5 miles of streets between LA Live and Exposition Park.
MyFigueroa would transform 4.5 miles of streets between South Los Angeles and downtown. (Courtesy MyFigueroa) Proposed changes include a combination of buffered bike lanes and separated cycle tracks. (Courtesy MyFigueroa)
The project hit its first major bump in the road at the end of 2011, when the Supreme Court of California dissolved the state’s redevelopment agencies, including the original custodian of MyFigueroa’s Proposition 1C grant funding. In April 2012, LADOT agreed to take over, and the project appeared to be on track. But in 2013, a traffic study indicating negative impacts combined with fierce local opposition to prompt changes to the design. Progress on MyFigueroa slowed to a crawl as stakeholders failed to agree on a path forward.
On August 28, 2013, Councilmember Curren Price filed a motion calling for further traffic studies and design alternatives that did not involve removing a lane of automobile travel. Two weeks later, Shammas Group CEO Darryl Holter, who owns seven car dealerships along the Figueroa Corridor, filed a formal appeal against MyFigueroa. The fate of the project remained uncertain until March 2014, when, before a hearing of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM), representatives from the offices of Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember Price announced that the opposing parties had agreed to work together toward a solution.
Throughout this time, LADOT and Department of City Planning put in long hours of research and analysis, first to answer Councilmember Price’s motion [pdf] and, later, in response to requests made by the stakeholders’ summit [pdf]. Finally, at the end of April, their hard work paid off as the Shammas Group withdrew its appeals. LADOT’s Tim Fremaux confirmed that MyFigueroa will move ahead with only minor changes, including tweaks to left turn pockets to facilitate ingress and egress at auto dealerships, and the formation of an advisory group to explore the possibility of bike lane closures during large events at Exposition Park.
MyFigueroa is still in the design phase, said Fremaux, so the construction advertise/bid/award process has yet to begin. If all goes well, construction may start in January 2015. Funding, meanwhile, is an open question. Under Proposition 1C, the $20 million grant was to have been spent by the end of 2014. LADOT, said Fremaux, is waiting on official confirmation from the state that funding will be extended beyond December 2014.