by Bob Gotham, Chair TBTB Steering Committee
The Take Back the Boulevard Initiative (TBTB) continues to pursue funding opportunities that will allow us to carry on the efforts of making Colorado Boulevard all that it can be for our community. Typically, funding programs are based on pre-defined types of infrastructure changes and differing scoring criteria. Consequently, TBTB will seek funding from multiple sources. Following is a brief history of our actions to date and our most recent efforts.
Initial TBTB meetings were held in March 2011. For the next couple of years, numerous community meetings were conducted. Based on stakeholder feedback from those meetings, the Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan was developed. This important document can be viewed at http://www.tera90041.org/.
Overall goals for TBTB Phase II include the following:
- New medians between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Sierra Villa.
- Turn pockets in new and existing medians.
- Additional crosswalks and pedestrian refuge areas.
- Bump outs/curb extensions, especially in the areas of bus stops.
- Better pedestrian lighting.
- Enhanced bus stop amenities (furniture, shade, trash cans, etc.).
- “Way finding” signage that may include a “Welcome to Eagle Rock” monument.
The initial attempt to secure funding for some of the desired changes to the Boulevard was included in our Grant Application to the Metro Call for Projects. Under this program, Metro will allocate as much as $200 million in discretionary federal, state and local transportation funds to improve all modes of surface transportation. Based on Councilmember Huizar’s strong support, and the initial evaluation by an interdisciplinary team, the TBTB application scored well and in January was forwarded to Metro for further consideration. In September, 2015 the Metro Board will select the Applications and funding to be approved. Should TBTB’s request for $7.5 million dollars be approved, funding will not be available until 2020. A major request in this Application is for new medians to be installed on the western segment of the Boulevard, further strengthening the Main Street feeling and bringing more overall consistency to the Boulevard throughout Eagle Rock.
The most recent opportunity to gain funding is found in the state-based ATP (Active Transportation Program). With strong support from the Council Office and Jeff Jacobberger – Civic Enterprise, also a consultant on the initial phase, the ATP Application, due by the end of this month, is almost complete. As previously mentioned, although there may be some overlap, the guidelines and focus of each grant opportunity should be considered unique. Consequently, the details of our ATP Application have been developed to coincide with improvements to the Boulevard that relate to the types of transportation / infrastructure changes found in the ATP Guidelines. According to initial informal reaction by City Staff, our Application is considered to be a strong candidate. The high level time-line for the ATP process is for the TBTB submission to be made by the end of this month. A final determination regarding the success of the TBTB Application will be known by mid-December. Following is a summary of the Colorado Boulevard ATP Grant Application.
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Goals of the ATP (Active Transportation Program)
the Application (Colorado Boulevard Application for Funding)
The ATP and the Colorado Boulevard Application focus on improving conditions for those who walk or bicycle to Eagle Rock’s major commercial, educational, recreational, governmental, cultural and religious activity centers, as well as major transit stops. One of the primary barriers to walking to destinations along the Colorado Boulevard corridor is the difficulty crossing this wide street with fast-moving traffic. Most of the project’s proposed improvements are designed to improve conditions for pedestrians crossing Colorado Boulevard.
Recommended Improvements Included in the Application
Pedestrian refuge islands provide a safe place to wait for people who cannot cross the entire width of Colorado on a single green light cycle; this includes some seniors, young children and people with mobility impairments. Curb extensions extend the sidewalk into the parking lane: they reduce the pedestrian crossing distance, make it easier for pedestrians and motorists to see each other, and reduce speeds of cars making right turns across crosswalks.
- Colorado/College View (north leg): Pedestrian Refuge Island and Curb Extensions: Key considerations: Adjacent to Colorado Terrace senior housing, where curve and slope of street reduce visibility. The prospect of medians between Sierra Villa and El Rio can help reduce speeding by visually narrowing roadway.
- Additional Curb Extensions: The Application includes several curb extensions at other key intersections.
- Eagle Rock Blvd – Key Considerations: High pedestrian traffic, high traffic volume, considerable bus rider activity, wide crossing distances; high speed of right turns from northbound Eagle Rock to eastbound Colorado.
- Maywood – Key Considerations: Adjacent to Eagle Rock City Hall, a place of numerous community meetings, location of Eagle Rock Farmers Market, parking lot use by Colorado Businesses after business hours at City Hall, an important pedestrian route, especially to schools in the area.
- Glen Iris: As part of Phase I of this project, the City installed a marked crosswalk with RRFB signals at Colorado/Glen Iris. Curb extensions will improve safety of this crosswalk at an unsignalized intersection.
- Hermosa: – Key Considerations: A this highly used crossing at a poorly lighted area, often used by members and patrons of the 20th Century Women’s Club. Curb extensions will improve safety of this crosswalk at an unsignalized intersection.
- Argus: NW and SE corners – Key considerations: Adjacent to RenArts Charter School and Alma House special-needs housing.
- Townsend: – Key Considerations: Adjacent to several pedestrian-oriented businesses, Trader Joe’s, high number of bus boardings, community stakeholders identified crossing Colorado Boulevard at this intersection as particularly unsafe.
- Loleta: – Key Considerations: This location is the closest signalized crosswalk to Dahlia Heights Elementary School.
- Merton and Eagle Rock Boulevard: – Key Considerations: This crossing is recognized as an extremely dangerous crossing due to drivers’ limited visibility of the presence of pedestrians.
- Pedestrian Lighting: Some sidewalks along Colorado Boulevard are fairly dark at night, which discourages active transportation. The project includes pedestrian lighting as follows:
- Between Sierra Villa and El Rio – Key Considerations: Sidewalks quite dark due to absence of pedestrian oriented buildings. The community identified this segment as the highest priority for improved lighting. Lighting will improve pedestrian access to the Eagle Rock Plaza Shopping Center.
- El Rio to Hermosa – Key Considerations: This area represents the most pedestrian-oriented commercial core of Eagle Rock. In addition to numerous businesses it contains a concentration of civic, educational and cultural activity centers.
- Improved Bus Stop Lighting: Lighting improvements at the 16 busiest Colorado Boulevard bus stops located in the areas of Broadway, Sierra Villa, Eagle Rock Boulevard, Townsend, Argus, and Ellenwood are included in the Application.
- Street Furniture: Street furniture will be included, particularly benches and trash cans. The benches will especially benefit senior citizens, who need more places to rest. The need for benches was a high priority during our outreach, particularly by the Solheim Lutheran Home and Colorado Terrace senior housing facilities. Additional street furniture will encourage more pedestrian activity.
- Bicycle Improvements:
These improvements are targeted at the least-comfortable segments of the new bike lanes. Because bicyclists’ willingness to ride is often determined by the least comfortable segment of their ride, these improvements can be expected to promote bicycling.
- Colorado/Broadway: The westbound bike lanes end between Sierra Villa and Broadway, and those riding west on Colorado must merge across two lanes of traffic and share a travel lane with cars. The Application includes a protected waiting area, or “bike box,” to enable bicyclists to cross Broadway at the existing crosswalk.
- Adjacent to the 134 Freeway Ramps:
- Cycle track, or protected bike lanes, on the south side of Colorado
- Widen north side adjacent to ramp to provide room for buffered bike lane
- Throughout Eagle Rock: Green painted lanes at “conflict zones” where many motor vehicles make turning movements across bike lanes, e.g., at Eagle Rock Blvd, at Trader Joe’s, at 134 off-ramp.
- Bike box at Eagle Vista, to make it easier for cyclists to ride to Eagle Rock Recreation Center.