Please comment on I-710 EIR: Bike and Ped access
CalTrans is proposing a major reconstruction project for the I-710 corridor that would potentially widening the freeway and install separated lanes for commercial vehicles. This corridor, if and when constructed, will have a major impact on the safety of bicycling and walking across the I-710 and the LA River in Long Beach as well as the other cities along the I-710. You can make a difference on whether or not the design is biking and walking friendly…by sending comments to CalTrans .
While construction for the project is years away…the time to make comments is now…during the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) phase of the project.
About the project
The I-710 (Long Beach Freeway) is a major transportation artery that links the Ports of Long Beach and LA to the rest of southern California. The stated objectives of the project are to (1) improve air quality, (2) improve mobility, congestion and safety and (3) assess alternative, green goods movement technologies.
The project team has identified several alternative designs for the freeway. These alternatives are presented in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIR), which is now available for review. This is the public’s opportunity to comment on the project…including making comments on how bicyclists and pedestrians will be accommodated. The project is not expected to begin for several years…but now is the time to make comments on the bike and ped facilities.
Details for the project and the instructions for making comments are on the Metro.net I-710 corridor website.
Bike and Ped impact
As part of this project the bridges and associated intersections that cross the I-710 in Long Beach..and the other cities along the corridor… will be redone. In Long Beach these include Anaheim, PCH and Willow, Wardlow and Long Beach Boulevard.
What is being proposed for Anaheim, PCH and Willow is referred to as Single Point Intersections (SPI’s). This design is intended to facilitate large volumes of vehicular traffic. However, as stated in the CA DOT guide to intersection design (p90) “These intersections can be efficient at moving high volumes of traffic, particularly left turns. However, the signal timing and intersection configuration required to provide the efficient movement of motor vehicles adversely affect pedestrians and bicyclists.”
The SPI diagram highlights some of the potential issues for bikes and Peds with this type of intersection.
What the EIR says about Peds and Bikes
According to the executive summary on Page 19 “The I-710 Corridor Project includes changes to arterial interchanges that may affect sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The I-710 corridor project will provide facilities for bicyclist and pedestrians in locations where local streets are affected by the construction of the build alternatives. Because bicycle and pedestrian facilities will be maintained or improved, the effect of the I-710 Corridor Project is that travel by walking and bicycling will not substantially change as a result of the implementation of the build alternative.”
In the full EIR there are limited comments on Bicycling in the community impacts section…page 3.3-25 to 27.
PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENT. Increases in walking and biking are positively associated with improvements in health, including decreased obesity, chronic disease, and stress. Childhood obesity is a particularly important issue that could be addressed through increased student walking or biking to school (P. Simon et al. 2009).
I-710 CORRIDOR PROJECT. As discussed earlier in this section, the build alternatives would improve local streets by constructing new curbs, gutters, and striping, as well as new sidewalks and outside shoulders to allow pedestrian and bicyclist mobility and safety. While the build alternatives would result in some changes in access, these changes would not result in adverse impacts to access to schools within the Study Area.
During construction, the build alternatives would result in temporary access impacts due to local roadways and interchanges being improved as part of the I-710 Corridor Project, and these proposed improvements have the potential to temporarily impact travel (driving, walking, and/or biking) for students who use these roadways to get to school.
All construction-related activities would cease after completion of construction, and direct access would be returned. Once in operation, the build alternatives would not result in adverse impacts to modes of travel for students and would enhance access to schools by reducing traffic congestion.
In reviewing the EIR there does not appear to be any proposal to include bike and ped facilities within the interchanges themselves…or improve access for bicyclists and pedestrians from either the east side (over the LA river) or from the west. The only stated improvement is “enhance access to schools by reducing traffic congestion.
A draft of the Long Beach proposed comments regarding the projects impact on bicycling and walking is included below.
Thanks for taking the time to address this important issue for bicyclists and pedestrians along the I-710 corridor.
City of Long Beach comments
Safe connections for bicyclists and pedestrians across the 710 corridor (the 710 freeway and the LA River) are vital for connectivity of Long Beach students, residents, workers and visitors. Long Beach is working to provide safe options for people to walk and bike to all portions of our city. Our residents, visitors and workers….need and deserve these safe options in all parts of the city…including along our important connections between the east and west sides of our city…i.e., across the 710 Corridor.
In the EIR it is stated ” Because bicycle and pedestrian facilities will be maintained or improved, the effect of the I-710 Corridor Project is that travel by walking and bicycling will not substantially change as a result of the implementation of the build alternative.”
We do not believe that this is entirely accurate. According to the Complete Intersections: a guide to reconstructing intersection and interchanges for bicyclists and pedestrians (Cal DOT 2010 p 90) “These intersections (SPI’s) can be efficient at moving high volumes of traffic, particularly left turns. However, the signal timing and intersection configuration required to provide the efficient movement of motor vehicles adversely affect pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Compact SPI’s can be configured to mitigate some of the bicyclist issues. In its June 2001 Design Memorandum, “Single Point Interchange Design, Planning, and Operations Guidelines”, Caltrans requires that “If an SPI alternative other than a Compact SPI is chosen, a separate bicycle facility shall be constructed in conjunction with the SPI.” Note that even if a separate facility is provided, the SPI should still meet bicyclist signal timing guidance provided in Traffic Operations Policy Directive 09-06.
We recommend that two types of facilities to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians:
1. Consider separated class 1 facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians in a minimum of five locations. One near the Anaheim Crossing, one between PCH and Willow near Hill Street, one between Willow and Wardlow near Spring, at Long Beach Boulevard and at Artesia Boulevard. Each of these will be well used on a daily basis…providing safe routes for students moving to and from their local schools as well as for our workers, our residents and our visitors.
2. Work with the Long Beach City Traffic Engineer to design and provide well marked facilities (street marking as well as signage) for both pedestrians and bicyclists to help them safely navigate the single point intersections. This should include stripped bike lanes, pedestrian paths and bike signals and extended light timing to accommodate the needs of both bicyclists and pedestrians.