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Eyes on the Street: MyFig Slowly Coming to Fruition

At Figueroa and Expo, a bus island takes shape. Sahra Sulaiman/ Streetsblog L.A.

When the city broke ground for the My Figueroa project last October, the intention was for the project to open this past June. That construction was only really picking up steam around that time is not all that surprising.

The effort to create better multimodal connections between Exposition Park, USC, L.A. Trade Tech, multiple transit lines, and Downtown via a combination of streetscape improvements, safety upgrades, and a mix of four lane miles of standard and buffered bike lanes and 2.6 lane miles of protected ones has been in the works since 2008.

As Joe Linton noted in his coverage of the groundbreaking, the many "ups and downs, controvers[ies], compromise[s], trade offs, and hard choices" (and, of course, a lawsuit) all figured into the delay.

The recent appearance of five bus platforms (above) between Exposition and 23rd Street signals that the project is finally moving forward (the final product should be akin to what you see below).

Rendering: LADOT at MyFigueroa
Source: MyFigueroa
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The construction schedule - finalized in April - can be found here. It appears to be running a bit behind, making it unclear if the project will be completed within the six-month time frame LADOT has set out.

Still, it does make the process by which the project will unfold clear: bus platforms are to be done first, over a few months' time, with landscaping following soon after, and lane striping and signage to be added a few months later. The work will be staggered, with the first improvements going in between 40th and 22nd Streets, then along 11th (where improvements will run alongside the planned streetcar), north of 22nd, and southbound between Adams and Exposition, respectively, finishing several months after the first section is completed.

Unfortunately, cyclists will not be treated to protected lanes all the way down Figueroa. Protected lanes will appear from Exposition Blvd. to just short of Washington Blvd. and between 11th and 7th Streets. The rest of the corridor will see a buffered bike lane.

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Approaching the Galen Center at USC, cyclists will have a protected cycle track. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
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Other improvements will include landscaping, modified traffic signals, high visibility crosswalks, lighting, repaired sidewalks, and improved transit infrastructure.

Construction of four additional bus platforms downtown is set to begin the weekend of July 29th. That effort will require northbound lanes between 11th and 8th Streets on Figueroa to be reduced to three lanes for a period of 60 to 90 days (and occasionally reduced to two northbound lanes on the weekends).

The map of the My Figueroa project. Source: My Figueroa
The map of the My Figueroa project. Source: My Figueroa
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In the meanwhile, cyclists will continue to have to navigate streets that vacillate between being narrow and somewhat uncomfortable at peak hours and alarmingly wide open at intersections (inviting drivers to make sudden diagonal beelines for the corner).

Cyclists will still have to navigate wide intersections in some places along Figueroa during construction. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Cyclists will still have to navigate wide intersections in some places along Figueroa during construction. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
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Noticeably absent from the schedule is the work timeline for improvements along Martin Luther King Blvd., Jr.

In some of LADOT's descriptions regarding improvements on King Blvd., a bikeway connecting Figueroa to Vermont is mentioned. But later on that same page (header: Along MLK Blvd from Figueroa to Vermont), the bikeway disappears.

Said bikeway also does not appear in renderings of the boulevard, however, making its status somewhat less clear.

There appears to be no bikeway planned for Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Source: My Figueroa
There appears to be no bikeway planned for Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Source: My Figueroa
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Hopefully, that oversight will be remedied. A bike lane along King Blvd. (connecting to Crenshaw Blvd.) is years overdue as it is, with councilmember Herb Wesson having stalled the process by calling for further study of the impact of the lane.

But it is also important that King (and connections beyond King and beyond Exposition Park) be addressed because the My Figueroa project is being funded with Prop 1C money - funds intended to make streets, sidewalks, and transit more accessible for residents of affordable housing. A look at the connections My Figueroa makes and the fact that the project ends rather abruptly at King, suggests that lower-income residents are the least likely to benefit from it.

While it is indeed important to give denizens of an increasingly dense downtown options by which to make the short jaunt to Exposition Park, one could argue that it is just as or even more important to give safer access to those that have fewest choices about how they get around. Especially since there is less and less affordable housing around USC each year, and folks are being pushed further away from jobs, L.A. Trade Tech and Mount St. Mary's (where much of the student body is local), and all of the amenities Exposition Park and downtown offer.

To keep up with the latest on the implementation of the project, please visit the My Figueroa blog.

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