Soto Street Bridge in El Sereno to speed up cars, connect 2nd rate bike lanes

Eastern Group Publishing published a report on the planned demolition of the Soto Street bridge on the El Sereno/Lincoln Heights border. The project has been in the works since 2004 and will begin construction this October. The Department of Public Works will host another community briefing on Wednesday, August 14, at 6 p.m. at the El Sereno Senior Center, located at 4818 Klamath Place, Los Angeles 90032.

http://egpnews.com/2013/08/soto-street-removal-project-aims-to-connect-residents/

The Soto Street bridge lords over an intersection of Mission Drive, Huntington Drive, and Soto Streets and is slated for demolition as maintenance on the now-rotten steel and concrete structure has been deemed “not worth it”.

This intersection happens to be one of the best possible gateways from Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley (Valley Blvd. being another one high on the list). Unfortunately for cyclists making that trip today it is one of the most harrowing places to ride in the city. Cars get up to highway speeds, you are trapped in the lane as the sidewalks lack proper curb ramps or are totally busted or too narrow to comfortably walk on, and the auto exhaust pools in the tiny valley and in between the hulking buildings on either side of the road. It sort of feels like that scene in Star Wars when Luke Skywalker plunges his ship along the surface of the Death Star – except there are dozens of Darth Vader-like car drivers behind you instead of one movie villain.

So, good news! The yucky bridge is going away and a “Class II” painted bike lane will be installed on either side of the street.

Unfortunately, the street will still be a stroad-style street-road hybrid that will probably not do too much to mend the wound in the community that these overly wide streets created. We’d like to see the lane width narrowed and have the road, overall, narrowed as well. Cars should be driving 20 to 25 mph through here, not the current 45 to 50 mph.

A nature band-aid park (likely a drunk driver and dumped trash collector judging by its placement) is going to be installed as well.

Grounds to rejoice? Sadly, yes. Though this isn’t as good as we deserve this is a step in the right direction – Los Angeles is finally unlocking a clear and relatively safe (for the bold) bike passage to the San Gabriel Valley.

Our recommendations? Along with the aforementioned road dieting, we’d like to see the sidewalks through the area wide enough to actually be 4′ across without light posts and other street furniture ruining the trip. We’d also like to see the bike lane be a protected bike lane, or at least paint-buffered as the Spring Street lanes are in DTLA. And that pocket park? It should be more of a plaza than a xeriscaped debris collector and maintenance liability. The now-vacant supermarket space and ground floor retail of nearby parcels have been dormant for too long – this space should be a neighborhood commercial hub and not an eyesore and car crash factory.

Our predictions for the future:
El Sereno will siphon bike trips that would have gone through Highland Park (if only the city would install bike lanes on the York Blvd. Bridge or on N. Figueroa Street to Colorado). The path of least resistance for entering L.A. from the SGV is soon going to be through El Sereno. Gabes Bike Shop would do well to prepare for the all the roadies from San Marino stopping in for air in their tires and an extra bag of electrolyte juice (or whatever those folks are into).

The city’s description of the project:
This project proposes to remove the existing bridge and re-align Mission Road, Soto Street, Huntington Drive North, and Huntington Drive South, while constructing two signalized at-grade intersections. Two new cul-de-sacs will be constructed to provide access to the residential complex and the Rancho Meat Market on the east side of the new intersections. A type II bike lane and sidewalk will be provided along the new roadway. New landscaped area median and frontage areas will enhance the aesthetically”

More info on the project in this .pdf file from the BoE:
http://eng.lacity.org/techdocs/emg/Soto_Street_Bridge_ND.pdf

And this project info page also from the BoE:
http://boe.lacity.org/uprs/report/ProjectInfoReport.cfm?k=1359&dmy=12120

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2 Comments

  1. Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    It really seems new projects like this should require protected lanes. They are so vastly preferable, especially when speed limits are so high as they are. Maybe it’s me, but riding on streets in LA where the speed limit is greater than 30mph freaks me out. With narrow shoulders, there’s so little room for error, I avoid them.

  2. Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    On this stretch of street in particular, with very few driveways and pretty much a blank slate of open right-of-way, I definitely agree.

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  1. By Streetsblog Los Angeles » Today’s Headlines on August 9, 2013 at 8:33 am

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