An eastern section of Wilshire Boulevard near downtown will see early construction begin Monday, May 13, of 7.7 miles of peak hour bus rapid transit lanes, Metro announced.
The new bus lanes are effective 7 a.m. Wednesday, June 5. Only transit buses will be permitted to use the lanes during peak hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Drivers of cars and trucks are subject to a citation if driving in BRT lanes during those hours.
The project continues through to 2014, aiming to cut bus commute time by 15 minutes between the 12.5 miles from Centinela Avenue in West Los Angeles to downtown. It was approved in 2011 by the Metro Board of Directors and is funded by a $23.3 federal grant combined with an $8.2 million local match.
Street improvements and selective street widening will be made along 9.9 miles of Wilshire Boulevard with rapid transit lanes on 7.7 miles, according to Metro.
A map, also attached to this post, shows existing 0.8 miles of curb lane from Barrington to Centinela Avenue will be converted to peak period bus lanes. From Federal Avenue to Barrington Avenue, a 0.1-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard will be widened by reducing sidewalk width, add an eastbound peak period bus lane and convert a westbound curb lane to a peak period bus lane. Also, Sepulveda Boulevard to Federal Avenue a 0.6-mile stretch of Wilshire will have sidewalk width reduced on both sides to accomodate bus lanes.
Westside residents and Brentwood Patch readers engaged on the project, saying reducing the width of sidewalk space while have Metro buses travel east and west during rush hour, will negatively affect the public domain in certain sections of Wilshire Boulevard.
Members of the South Brentwood Residents Association say more gridlock will occur when only nine blocks of Wilshire Boulevard west of the 405 Freeway are involved with the project, since the City of Santa Monica is not installing the rapid transit lanes.
During peak hours, Metro states it operates buses every two minutes on Wilshire Boulevard west of downtown, and there are 53,000 daily boardings with 44 percent of those during rush hours. BRT bus lanes are used in New York, Chicago and Boston to improve travel times and service reliability.
Contractors will remove lane striping next week for the bus rapid transit stretch of Wilshire Boulevard lanes from MacArthur Park to Western Avenue. Long lane striping begins May 20 through 24 and "bus only" pavement marking and signage installment happens May 29 through June 1, according to Metro.
Once launched June 5, all vehicles are permitted to use bus lanes during off-peak hours and on weekends. Metro noted that to acquaint motorists with the new lanes, a short period will be observed when warnings may be issued.