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MTA says changes to proposed rapid bus lane won't jeopardize funding

December 2, 2010 |  3:26 pm

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/04/10/bus.jpg

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority could omit a nearly one-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard from a proposed bus lane project without jeopardizing federal funding under a new program intended to encourage bus rapid transit, the agency said Thursday.

Metro has proposed designating a bus-only lane during morning and evening rush hours along 8.7 miles of the busy boulevard. The project would also entail restriping and road repairs.

High-rise residents of Westwood’s “condo canyon” asked Metro to exempt the portion of Wilshire between Comstock and Selby avenues because they contended that a bus-only lane would interfere with residents or delivery people seeking to leave or enter buildings’ driveways or parking garages. Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who is on Metro’s board, said he agreed with the residents.

Project proponents said they feared that the exemption would put at risk the entire $31.5-million proposal.

In a Nov. 29 letter to the Federal Transit Administration, Metro said the exemption would reduce the length of the project to 7.7 miles and the project budget to $27 million, with a corresponding reduction in the federal share to $19.9 million from $23.3 million.

“We do not anticipate that this change would cause any auto or bus transition problems that would affect the continuity of the project,” Metro Chief Executive Officer Arthur T. Leahy said in the letter.

The Metro board is expected to vote on the project at its Dec. 9 meeting. The project faces opposition from residents of Brentwood and West Los Angeles who say Metro failed to adequately study all of the potential ill effects on automobile traffic. “To take away a much-needed lane from car traffic is insane,” one West Los Angeles resident said in an e-mail. Other critics say the bus lane was being promoted for the purpose of fixing streets that the city otherwise could not afford to repair.

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--Martha Groves

Photo: Credit Los Angeles Times

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