Honolulu road diet cancelled but other options to be reviewed.
By Ted AYALA
Glendale City Council voted Tuesday night to shelve the controversial Honolulu road diet that had been proposed for Montrose and La Crescenta. The road diet – which would have reduced the amount of car lanes from four to two, and have implemented bicycle lanes and buffer zones on either side of the street – was planned to run along Honolulu Avenue from Sunset Avenue to as far as Ramsdell Avenue.
Opinion from the public and council was mostly positive when the project was first announced last year. But concerns from Montrose and La Crescenta residents, whose commutes would have been affected by the project, swelled over the past several months.
Area residents and business owners packed the Sparr Heights Community Center during a community outreach meeting for the plan last May. Feedback was decidedly mixed with many supporters of the road diet urging the city to proceed with the plan. But opponents of the plan outnumbered its supporters, subjecting city representatives to a barrage of complaints and outright anger, triggered by worries over the plan’s effects on traffic.
But it was the project’s costs that ultimately persuaded the council to explore alternatives to Honolulu Avenue. Though the road diet would have been funded with federal money that had been specifically earmarked for this manner of project, the cost of restoring Honolulu to its pre-road diet configuration would have to be footed by the city. The estimated cost for that restoration would have been $120,000, using gas tax money that could be used for other repair projects.
“The city does not have the money to reverse this project,” said Councilmember Rafi Manoukian. “Our general fund does not have that. That is a major concern.”
Councilmember Ara Najarian, though still supportive of road diets, agreed that other streets should be explored.
“I think we have to find the right road to attempt [a road diet],” he said. “I think public outreach is important.”
He also dismissed accusations by local bicyclists of having an anti-bicycle agenda as “unfounded,” citing his support for bicycle projects as a board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).
Rejecting the proposed road diet from its start was Councilmember Dave Weaver, who reaffirmed his opposition to the project – and bicycle lanes sharing lanes with automobiles in general.
“Our streets were designed for automobiles, not bicycles,” he said.
Reading aloud from an email that had been sent to him by a road diet supporter, the email’s author’s assertion that Weaver has been “historically most opposed to embracing the idea that viable transportation could be more than automobiles.”
“That’s very true,” Weaver replied. “[Shared roads] are a recipe for disaster.”
Mayor Frank Quintero continued his support for exploring alternative roads for possible road diets, saying that shared roads have been successfully implemented around the world to the benefit of both drivers and bicyclists.
“We’re not reinventing anything here,” he said. “The whole point is that you have to build the infrastructure. That’s what makes sense.”
City Council will continue to examine alternative routes and options, reviewing the future of the plan at the close of the plan.
“We need to move forward on this,” Quintero said. “It’s what’s best for Glendale.”