MyFigueroa project to revamp bike lanes on Figueroa Street by 2014

The Figueroa Corridor Streetscape project, also known as MyFigueroa, will introduce the USC community to a newly designed Figueroa Street when completed in  2014.

The MyFigueroa project is an initiative led by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and is being funded by a state grant from Proposition 1C funds.

The plan was voted on during an April 9 meeting held at the Andrew Norman Hall in the Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital.

Proposition 1C, which led to the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality and Port Security Act of 2006, is a proposal that designates $1.35 billion for the development of urban areas and areas near public transportation. According to the grant’s stipulations, construction must be finished by the end of 2014.

Planners said the project will make travel down the Figueroa corridor safer for bicyclists and pedestrians while also encouraging residents to use more public transportation, such as the Metro Expo Line.

One of the project’s goals is to transform vehicle lanes into bicycle lanes. Currently, many of the bike lanes are separated from the road to enhance bicyclist safety. In addition, planners want to add platforms for public transit and install more lighting and trees to beautify the corridor.

The re-design will affect more than just the area surrounding campus. The three-mile stretch will impact Figueroa Street from 7th Street to Exposition Park, 11th Street from Figueroa to Broadway, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Figueroa Street to Vermont Avenue.

Associate Senior Vice President of Civic Engagement for USC Craig Keys said the construction will greatly benefit students.

“[The project] is intended to make travel via bicycle safer and more convenient for bicycle users, and USC students are significant users of bicycle transportation,” Keys said. “It’ll impact them on a daily basis.”

Keys said the redesign also will allow students to go downtown and explore the city more easily.And in addition to greater access to other parts of Los Angeles, Keys emphasized that the project will increase overall traffic safer around campus.

“Safety is an issue right now with the major traffic on the Figueroa Corridor,” Keys said. “This [project] makes it safe for students to come onto campus for class, or to visit places in the community for shopping or recreation.”

The changes are also designed to have beneficial impacts on local businesses.

“The expectation is that this is going to invigorate the local economy because people who travel to shopping locations by bicycle and by foot tend to spend more money at their destinations and stay longer,” Keys said.

Some students, such as Yasmin Homayoun, a freshman majoring in business administration, said the reconstruction on Figueroa would encourage her to ride her bike more often, including toward Downtown Los Angeles.

“I think it’s a good idea, because I ride my bike all the time around campus,” Homayoun said. “It’s nice to know that they’re doing that.”

Others, such as Daniel Depew, a sophomore majoring in astronautical engineering, do not think the changes will make biking safe enough.

“Honestly, I don’t really use a lot of the bike lanes along the major streets. … I generally try to avoid the area,” he said. “It’s a safety thing for me about riding my bike along such a major thoroughfare. I usually take the side streets instead.”

Keys asserts that the university will be following the project closely to ensure that the needs of students and the administration will be met during the transition.

“We’re observing this progress and participating in the discussion,” Keys said. “If any issues arise which need to be addressed from the perspective of the project’s impact on students or issues related to the university’s activities, we’ll have an opportunity to address them.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the MyFigueroa website does not list any scheduled lane closures. However, as construction begins, lane closures will likely occur soon.

“It’s not unusual for construction to be disruptive to transportation,” Keys said. “It would not be surprising if there was limited access along Figueroa.”

The planners did not give a definitive start day for construction.