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Angelenos React To Figueroa Street Transformation

Axel Hellman |
February 7, 2013 | 8:49 p.m. PST

Staff reporter

A rendering of the project showing improved bus stops, widened sidewalks, new trees, more on-street parking, and a cycle track. (My Figueroa Project)
A rendering of the project showing improved bus stops, widened sidewalks, new trees, more on-street parking, and a cycle track. (My Figueroa Project)
South Figueroa Street, currently a traffic-clogged boulevard, will soon be transformed into a haven for pedestrians and cyclists by the My Figueroa project. The project will revamp Figueroa from 7th Street in downtown L.A. to 41st Street near Exposition Park. Initialdesigns include widened sidewalks, new lighting, more crosswalks, tree plantings, additional street furniture, and a separated cycle track.

A cycle track is not just any bike lane – it's a bike lane that's protected from other traffic by physical barriers.  Figueroa Street will be the first street in Los Angeles to have this amenity.

The project is currently under environmental review.  A draft environmental impact report has been released and according to Tim Fremaux, a LADOT transportation engineer, the project should be complete by the end of 2014.

Local residents see the project as a great improvement to street conditions that are currently unattractive and often dangerous. Amy Gonzalez is a local student and rides the bus on Figueroa to and from school.  She describes the experience of waiting for the bus as unpleasant “because there are no benches around...sometimes, I feel like the cars are going to run me over.”

The My Figueroa project will improve bus stops and place additional benches on the street as well.

Edgar Vasquez finds riding a bike on Figueroa intimidating. He commutes to class at LA Trade Tech by bicycle.

“I got hit once,” said Vasquez. “And I’ve had a couple other close calls.”

Some don't attempt to bike down Figueroa. Sidewalk riding is common, and others likes Madeline Aubushon, a USC student, avoid Figueroa altogether. She lives on Figueroa, a few blocks up the street from campus, but takes side streets instead. 

 “It would be a fairer way of divvying up the road than having bikes and pedestrians all on the sidewalk,” Aubushon said of the project.

Local businesses also expressed support for the change.Frank Mendez, manager of Brooklyn Water Bagel on Figueroa Street, said the majority of his bagel shop’s customers arrive on foot or by bike. While Mendez sees pros and cons in the project, he expects the improved pedestrian environment increase foot traffic in the area, and therefore increase his business.

Figueroa Street, especially near USC, is home to many drive-thru fast food restaurants. Crispina Valariano, manager of Fatburge, predicts that once My Figueroa is complete, “business is going to be better because there is going to be parking, and there will be people walking and biking.” 

As part of the project, more on-street parking spaces will be created and they will be available for longer hours. 

"The number of people walking on the street will make the area more safe," she said.  "Maybe it will be something like the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.”


Read more of Neon Tommy's transportation coverage, click here. Read more Neon Tommy's coverage of downtown L.A., click here.

Reach Staff Reporter Axel Hellman here.



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