Out of 178 applications vying for Metro money, 84 of those are part of the preliminary staff recommendations that means their project could become a reality. Of those 84, ten projects are within the boundaries of Long Beach.
The 2015 Call for Projects were announced in October of last year. The applicants brought in requested some $480M in grant funding with projects totaling a cost of $795M. Staff is recommending 84 projects totaling $193M; of that, Long Beach projects are asking for over $25M in grant monies, spanning biking infrastructure to goods movement improvements.
Breaking down the projects in order of their listing:
Regional Surface Transportation Improvements
Artesia Boulevard could be established as a “Great Street (Or Multimodal Corridor) in Long Beach implementing the City’s street prioritization framework.” This project is the City’s highest scoring project to make it into the preliminaries in the Regional Surface Transportation Improvements area and thankfully is located in North Long Beach rather than…
…much more affluent areas, like the one set in this project. The City of Long Beach wants to implement complete street improvements along 6th & 7th Streets including street decoupling, crosswalk improvements, bike lanes, and signal upgrades that will turn 7th into the “Great 7th Street.”
Goods Movement Improvements
The Port of Long Beach is requesting funds for a project that would “widen and realign Pier B Street, realign Pico Avenue, enhance roadway capacity, improve cargo flow and train operations, and improve pedestrian safety.”
Signal Synchronization and Bus Speed Improvements
One of the projects we’re most excited about because we’ve been fighting for it for a couple of years now: the City of Long Beach is finally requesting funds that would harness signal synchronization along the Blue Line in addition to improving “communication, transit, bicycle and ped improvements and inclusion of the corridor into the City’s Adaptive Traffic Control System.” Though the City asked for $2M, staff is recommending that Metro fund the project in its entirety ($2.6M).
Transportation Demand Management
Yes and yes: the Port of Long Beach is requesting $4.3M for a Class I bike path across Ocean Boulevard Bridge, connecting the Bixby Memorial Bicycle Path to the City of Long Beach bike network and the LA River bike path. The importance of this project has been discussed in the past and we couldn’t be more thrilled to see it approaching a reality.
The Atherton Bridge and CSULB bike connections seek to “improve LA-Orange County bike/ped access over the San Gabriel River and connect all existing bikeways in east Long Beach, using Cal State Long Beach as a hub.” The project is seeking $1.8M in grant money.
Sadly, the sole project seeking to improve North Long Beach biking infrastructure is also the lowest scoring one: the Walnut & 52nd Street Bike Boulevard is set to be a much-needed 3.65-mile bike boulevard that would offer a connection to the LA River bike trail.
The disconnected 1st Street—which sees a total loss of pedestrian life in DTLB between the Transit Mall and Elm Avenue—is a place where the City of Long Beach hopes to activate as a “pedestrian gallery,” with shared street concepts on 1st to improve the East-West connectivity between the Transit Gallery and the East Village.
Long Beach Transit is seeking to purchase three new zero-emission electric buses to replace three existing hybrid buses.
It is the biking/ped infrastructure that is of most concern for us: while thrilled to see a complete street project in North Long Beach, North and Central Long Beach is widely left out of the loop in terms of biking/ped infrastructure. Given that many in these areas use bikes as transportation—not just amusement or exercise—and that pedestrian accessibility borders the line of flat-out dangerous—high school students, left to their feet following the discontinuation of the busing program at LBUSD, often cross bridges using sidewalks that sit side-by-side with massive 18-wheelers—connections that are accessible are vital.
The preliminary proposals will undergo a 13-week study before being formally presented to the Board for recommendation.
“The 2015 Call for Projects Rainbow Report contains solid and dashed lines,” explained Doreen Morrissen Transportation Planning Manager in Long Range Planning for Metro via email. “In order to maintain scoring consistency across all modes, projects assigned a score of 70 points or higher are eligible for funding. While those eligible projects are indicated in the Rainbow Report by a solid, ‘qualifying’ line, they may remain unfunded, as explained below. Several modes, including Regional Surface Transportation Improvements, Bicycle Improvements, and Transit Capital, had more ‘qualifying’ projects than could be funded within their funding marks. For those modes, a dashed line represents the point up to which funding is available. Where a dashed line is found above a qualifying project, the project remains unfunded in this recommendation. Projects located between the solid and dashed lines are eligible should additional funding become available.”