L.A. Council approves bus-only lanes along 7.7 miles of Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles City Council members voted Tuesday for a plan to construct bus-only lanes along 7.7 miles of busy Wilshire Boulevard, one of the most heavily used corridors in Southern California.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority say approximately 29,000 of the people using the route are bus riders who make the lengthy, bumpy and often taxing trip from downtown Los Angeles to the Westside.
Known formally as the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit project, the bus-only lanes would be established in the current curb lanes for much of the stretch, and officials would widen the road and add a lane in at least one portion. Only buses would be allowed in those lanes from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
The lanes will begin near MacArthur Park and end at the eastern border of Santa Monica, with some segments -- and all of Beverly Hills -- excluded.
The project originally sought to cover a longer distance, but a one-mile stretch just west of Beverly Hills known as Condo Canyon was excluded by both the L.A. Council and the Metro board, which had previously approved the 7.7-mile stretch.
If the MTA does reverse course, the project would return to the council. Officials with the city, Metro and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors must all agree and approve the same project in order to be eligible for $23.3 million in funding for the project from the Federal Transit Administration.
The project is expected to cost $31.5 million, Metro officials said, with the remainder coming from Proposition C funds.
Proponents of the project say the bus-only lanes will slash commuter times for the scores of travelers that move east-west along Wilshire Boulevard. Officials hope to begin construction in the summer of 2012 and open the project in mid-2013.
-- Ari Bloomekatz
Photo: Metro Rapid buses at a bus stop at the busy intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times