Announcing the Release of the First Year Draft EIR and More

Draft EIR Cover

City Planning’s David Somers has two blog posts today to explain how these prioritized bike lane projects will be moving forward. This post  goes into more detail about the Draft EIR, while his previous post covered the public hearings scheduled for the project and the approval process afterwards.  – Nate Baird

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of the First Year of the First Five-Year Implementation Strategy (First Year) and the Figueroa Streetscape Project was released to the public on Thursday, January 17th.  As all proposed bicycle lanes included in the First Year Draft EIR include the reduction of at least one mixed-flow travel lane, the main focus of the Draft EIR is the projected increases in travel delay (expressed in Level of Service (LOS)) anticipated as a result of the reduction in auto flow capacity. The result of the LOS analysis can be found in the Traffic Section of the Draft EIR (see Table 4.5-5).

Projects

Sunset Blvd. Traffic and Safety Assessment

A stand alone Traffic and Safety Assessment was also released for one mile of bike lanes along Sunset Blvd. west of Figueroa St. The Sunset Blvd. bike lanes were recently proposed and will for the first time provide a direct connection to the neighborhoods of Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Echo Park to Downtown by a continuous bikeway.

Draft EIR and AB 2245

Many may wonder why a Draft EIR is still necessary given the adoption of AB 2245, which exempts new bicycle lanes from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Though the state law exempts these projects from CEQA, it requires that the City provide traffic and safety assessments of these bike lanes and conduct public hearings prior to seeking the exemption. Additionally, the Department of City Planning initiated the Draft EIR prior to the adoption of AB 2245, and seeks to make the analysis available for public review prior to the public hearings. The Draft EIR serves as the traffic and safety assessment under the law. Comments on the Draft EIR will be addressed in a staff report prepared by the Department of City Planning for consideration by the General Manager of LADOT.

 Approval Process Going Forward

The City will not be certifying the EIR or preparing a Final EIR.  Rather, at the time of a decision to proceed with bike lanes, Notices of Exemption will be filed in accordance with AB 2245. LADOT will not make a final decision to approve all 40 miles of bike lanes projects included in the First Year project list at the same time, but rather intends to proceed in tiers by: 1) approving a subsection of bicycle lanes as proposed, 2) approving a subsection of bicycle lanes as modified in design based on public input and traffic and safety analysis, and 3) deferring the implementation of some of the more difficult bicycle lanes to a later date. LADOT may proceed with the implementation of some of the bicycle lanes from the project list upon filing a Notice of Exemption, and after review of the traffic and safety impacts contained in the Draft EIR and public input has been received and responded to. Subject to final approval by LADOT, the installation of the bicycle lanes is anticipated to take less than 12 months, and the completion of the first tier of bicycle lanes would begin sometime in 2013. A Notice of Exemption will be filed for the streetscape improvements proposed as part of the My Fig project.

Send any comments you have on either the Draft EIR or Traffic and Safety Assessment for the Sunset Blvd. bicycle lanes to David Somers by March 4th, 2013 at 5 PM. More information related to the process and contact is available here.

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