405 Scene, Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro via The Source
Transportation infrastructure includes all physical and organizational structures necessary for the transportation system to operate, from sidewalks to Metro lines to traffic signal timing. The design and quality of transportation infrastructure has a direct impact on all our other mobility goals, including the aforementioned safety and access. Los Angeles has an enormous population, workforce, and geography, and our roads only have a certain capacity. In order to alleviate congestion and ensure mobility for Angelenos, we need to maintain and expand our infrastructure and system management to support the transportation needs of the city.
Angelenos on Infrastructure
“The first thing is to repair the infrastructure”
“I would like to see streets, sidewalks, and storm drains that are clean and in good repair”
“Ample sidewalks, shade from trees and canopies, protected bike lanes, and frequent buses/trains”
“I want a subway to the beach!”
“Better public transportation”
“Multi-modal facilities and infrastructure”
“Sufficient parking and parking next to subway stations”
Above all, participants expressed the need to maintain and expand high quality transportation infrastructure, with the most focus on maintaining street and sidewalk quality and developing a comprehensive public transportation network throughout the city.
Angelenos want their streets to be enjoyable places, and feel that the road, curb, and sidewalk paving are in major disrepair, with cracks and damage from cars, uplifted tree roots, and age. Pavement quality is a physical barrier and present safety concerns for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. In addition, there were many comments on the need for more trees and landscaping to provide shade, make walking and biking more comfortable, and make streets more vibrant, pleasant environments. Many suggested increasing the amenities and streetscape elements available on sidewalks to make all forms of transportation easier and more enjoyable. These included protected bicycle lanes, landscaped street medians, lighting, benches, sheltered transit stops, water fountains, community artwork, wayfinding signs, and trash cans.
Another commonly raised issue was the expansion of our public transportation system. Participants want to see more buses, more rail lines (light rail or subway), and most importantly, a network that adequately connects the 460-square mile geography of Los Angeles. Many commented that they would use public transit for as many trips as possible if the services and routes they need were available. Other participants desired operational improvements in existing public transportation services to make them more efficient, more frequent, low-cost, and easy to use. There were also many suggestions for increasing access and connection to public transportation, ranging from park and ride lots at rail stations to car sharing to mobility hubs.
In addition, there were many suggestions for infrastructure improvements to improve vehicle traffic flow. These included installing more protected left turns and timed traffic signals as well as re-striping lanes and adding traffic calming devices to reduce speed for traffic safety. There were also many comments regarding parking, both for and against, which conveyed a need to balance and manage parking in consideration of businesses and residents across the city.
World Class Infrastructure
We are proposing a goal of “World Class Infrastructure” to support the policies, programs, and physical transportation network that will shape Los Angeles into a truly multi-modal city. Los Angeles is renowned for its automobile infrastructure, including 27 monumental bridges and the world’s first stack freeway interchange. Los Angeles was the first city to centrally control traffic signals, and the Department of Transportation still uses ATSAC (Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control), the largest system of its type today, to manage traffic signals and timing to maximize traffic flow. As a city of the 20th Century, Los Angeles was able to design roadways with the rise of the automobile in mind. However, as our city continues to grow, road capacity is limited, and we are looking to expand high quality infrastructure for all modes of transportation, including transit, biking and walking.
Our transportation system has grown dramatically since the last Transportation Element update in 1999. In mass transit alone, we have gained the Gold Line, Gold Line Eastside Extension, Expo Line (Phase I), Orange Line, Silver Line, 26 Rapid bus routes, and many Commuter Express and DASH routes. Angelenos have recognized the benefits of and need for additional investment in our infrastructure, passing Measure R in 2008 to fund traffic relief projects, system management and maintenance, and new transportation infrastructure. Measure R is projected to raise over $40 billion in the next 30 years. Measure R projects can be tracked here, and a complete list of all Metro projects can be found here. Continued investment in high-quality transportation services can provide Angelenos with more transportation options and has the potential to reduce traffic congestion and create more predictable travel patterns and travel times for everyone.
We can also make improvements to our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. The state of our streets, sidewalks, and street trees has recently made news headlines, but the Mobility Element can create a framework for identifying and prioritizing maintenance and repair. We can support multi-modal connections like mobility hubs that will complement the new bicycle lanes and programs outlined in the City’s Bicycle Plan. We can support decisions that encourage active transportation, such as increases in street landscaping and facilities like transit shelters, car sharing, and street lighting. High quality infrastructure is key to providing safe, accessible transportation.
Some infrastructure changes can impact multiple modes. The LA Express Park Project piloted this year in Downtown to improve parking management and vehicle traffic flow, introducing demand-based pricing and online and mobile parking availability data. Similarly, parking management measures can impact transit ridership in the form of park and ride lots at transit stations. Traffic-calming streetscape elements, like planted medians and lighting, not only enhance the pedestrian realm, but can also decrease vehicle speed which can potentially reduce collisions.
High quality infrastructure, new and existing, can help Los Angeles develop Complete Streets that enable easy, multi-modal travel. Beyond Measure R, the gas tax, Proposition A, and Proposition C raise funds specifically for transportation infrastructure (our next post will discuss investments in more detail). The new Mobility Element will enable the City to better prioritize and coordinate capital improvements and land use, supporting our transportation infrastructure with the investments that Los Angeles has already committed. We can ensure that our transportation network is not just functional, but enjoyable for travelers of all ages, modes, and abilities. The City has been nationally recognized as a leader in forward-thinking transportation development, and the Mobility Element will encompass the feedback we have received to hopefully turn those thoughts into actions.