Closing the Northvale Gap within Expo Bike Path

On March 5th, Angelenos celebrated the opening of the new Metro Gold Line extension into Asuza, which expands the existing Gold Line more than 11 miles to bring more people into the ever growing Metro rail system. Later this year, Metro’s rail system will offer even more connectivity options for our choosing. With the completion of Metro’s Expo Line Phase II, expected to open May 2016, people will be able to ride the train from the existing Expo Line Phase I terminus in Culver City all the way to the beach in Santa Monica!

In the meantime, LADOT is working diligently on building the Expo Bike Path that largely parallels the Expo Line’s rail line alignment.The Expo Bike Path will provide a low-stress east-west facility for people to bicycle, walk, scoot, or roll. Due to setbacks outside the City’s control, a portion of the bike path has been delayed, public meetings have been previously held with the community, and in January 2016 the City of LA held an open house to provide information and discuss design alternatives.

The Expo Northvale Gap Closure project would create a safe and comfortable connection for people traveling on bicycle between a gap along the planned Expo Bike Path. This project would better connect the surrounding neighborhoods to the new light rail line and allow more continuous bicycle travel in West Los Angeles. As part of efforts to close the “Northvale Gap”, on January 13, 2016 LADOT partnered with the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Engineering (BOE), Department of City Planning (DCP), and Council District 5 (CD 5) to host an open house at the Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library to gather public input on potential alternatives for this gap closure project.

We were glad to have members of the community join us and learn about gap closure alternatives, design considerations, access points, and interim connecting measures. Prior to the open house, LADOT collaborated with BOE to prepare presentation boards on the following topics: the three project alternatives, an interim route, a parking evaluation, and a map of potential potential access points. Additionally, BOE and DCP staff provided information on the potential impacts each project design alternative would have on the surrounding environment, including soundwall construction, nesting hawks and mature trees, and changes to parking. If you missed the event or are interested in learning more, here is some detailed information about the project:

Overview of the Project

The Expo Northvale Gap Closure project is comprised of two segments. The segment between Motor Avenue and Dunleer Drive, as shown in the cross section below, is planned as an off-street bike path, with access off Motor Avenue just north of the Interstate 10 freeway running along an existing easement and connecting to Northvale Road just east of Dunleer Drive.
Expo Northvale Gap Closure project Segment 1 Motor Av to Dunleer Dr
At the meeting we discussed three different design options for the segment between Dunleer Avenue and Putney Road:

Project Option #1 Two-way Protected Bike Lanes (with Bollards)
Option 1 In Option #1, the two-way bike lanes would run along the south side of Northvale Road, with bollards separating people on bicycles from vehicle travel lanes. Implementing this option would require removal of existing parking on the south side of Northvale Rd., and would require a small amount of roadway repavement. Due to its relatively light construction work, the option is estimated to be the least expensive one out of the three, with an estimated construction cost of $13 million. However, similar safety benefits are expected relative to the other options since bicycle riders will be physically protected from traffic on a local neighborhood street. Members of the public and City staff found the attractiveness of the design alternative given the construction cost considerations, minimal construction, preservation of existing landscaping, facilitation of local access, and similar safety benefits as compared to the other options.

Project Option #2 Two-way Protected Bike Lanes (with Concrete Curb)
Option 2
Option #2 is similar to Option #1 in that the two-way bike lanes would be positioned at the south side of Northvale Rd. The major difference being that Option #2 would provide a greater level of protection for people traveling on bicycles by creating a concrete curb separating the bikeway and vehicle travel lanes, which requires engineering work to widen the roadway and stabilize its slope. This option is estimated to cost 177% more than Option #1 at $36 million and would require additional loss of trees and open space along Northvale Road to accommodate the widening.

Project Option #3 Separated Bike Path
Option 3
This option proposes to construct a bike path in the trench along the train track for the second segment of the project, rather than placing it at street level on Northvale Road. Advantages of this approach are that street parking would not be removed and that complete separation of the bikeway would allow uninterrupted bike travel. However, the implementation of this alternative would restrict access between Motor Avenue and Putney Road. In addition, more local trees would have to be removed, there are concerns for public safety due to the bike path’s below grade location, and project estimates would increase four times compared to Option # 1 (estimated cost of Option #3 is $52 million).

Interim Route

Interim Route

Interim route during Expo Northvale Gap Closure project design and construction

While we are trying our best to close bike path gap as soon as possible, an interim route will be needed while the gap closure project is in design and under construction. The planned interim route for people on bicycles is shown above, “Bike Route” signage, “Sharrows” and other wayfinding (traffic control) measures will be applied to this route to guide users.

Parking Evaluation
To understand current use of street parking, our engineers conducted field investigation during weekday midday, weekday PM, weekend AM and weekend PM. Data about the number of cars parked on street were collected along Northvale Road during the four time periods, and the information was provided to the public at the open house. Generally, relatively low parking utilization was observed at the southern portion of the Northvale Road when compared to the northern portion of the street, between Dunleer Drive and Overland Avenue.

Access Points
Since the bikeway will primarily serve the residents in Cheviot Hills and Palms, it is important to make it accessible for the surrounding community. People at the meeting provided feedback on prefered access points, but no decisions has been made yet. (Please note that intermittent access points would only be available for Option #1 and Option #2)

What We Heard From the Community

We are grateful to have received plenty of feedback regarding all aspects of this gap closure project. Seventy-eight written comments were received during the public open house and ten comments were received separately via email. While some residents conveyed their concerns about the potential impacts of this project, most people who submitted their feedback support the closure of this critical gap via the bike path.

Based on comments received, there was a lot of support for Option #1, since it was perceived to be most cost effective and would require less removal of trees and landscaping than Option #2 or Option #3. People also prefer this option because it is more likely to be implemented more quickly than the alternatives. Some comments expressed support for Option #2 and Option #3 for their increased separation from motorized vehicles, but were also concerned that those two options would require greater tree removal and greater cost.

Many residents addressed the importance of preserving local landscape and the nesting habitat in order to maintain the quality of their neighborhood. Some residents are concerned that the removal of some parking spaces on Northvale Road would cause inconvenience for the residents who live nearby. Other residents wanted their privacy to be protected from the bike path. Although exact impacts would not be known before design plans are developed, our team appreciated all the concerns and comments shared and we will take them into account during the specific design and implementation stages of the project.

Design Selection & Next Steps

Based on recommendations from the public input received during the open house meeting and the Council Office, and considerations related to access and safety benefits, project costs, and design feasibility, LADOT and BOE have decided to further develop the Option #1 design.

Option #1 is the most cost-effective option in satisfying the project goals and is most feasible in terms of securing additional funding. It would bring less construction activity to the neighborhood and is more promising to allow for the closure of the bikeway gap and full build-out of the Expo Bike Path in a timely manner.

We heard the importance of preserving local landscape, and ensuring the safety of the interim route for all users, and understand that some concerns persist with reducing on street parking on the south side of Northvale Rd. While working with BOE to develop the specific design, we will take all the concerns and suggestions into consideration. Updates about the project will be provided once we have more detailed information about the cost and impacts of the project.

Thank you again for those who attended the meeting and contributed to the discussion of this project! We look forward to bringing high quality facilities for people on bicycles to Cheviot Hills and Palms, which will better serve the community.

11 replies
  1. Brian Nilsen
    Brian Nilsen says:

    I am so excited to see this project moving forward. I live very close to this and am very much looking forward to having a safer way to bike through the area!

    Reply
  2. Jeremiah LaRose
    Jeremiah LaRose says:

    I’m curious why no alternative was presented by closing gaps on the existing network using National Blvd, National Pl, and Westwood Blvd. I recently biked west from Culver City Station to Santa Monica and used this route to complete the gap rather than the Northvale alternative. Granted, Northvale is a much calmer street, but the National-Westwood route is a little more intuitive and some elements (bike lanes and route signage) are already in place for certain portions. Closing the gap using both routes seems like a win because it will improve station access in multiple directions while meeting the goal of completing the Expo bike path. Ultimately only one route needs to be signed as the official Expo Bike Route, but it seems like there’s no practical justification to *not* do both, and the National-Westwood route shouldn’t really require more than striping and signage improvements.

    Reply
    • LADOT Intern
      LADOT Intern says:

      Hi Jeremiah,

      This route was investigated and discarded due to the need to connect low-stress bicycle path segments and the high speeds and high volumes of motor vehicles on Westwood.

      Reply
  3. Marutina
    Marutina says:

    Any plans to address National between Motor and Palms in terms of bike lanes? Lots of fast cars and blind corners in that area. Far more dangerous than biking though Cheviot Hills. Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Effron
    Effron says:

    Question, will the homeless encampments be the same size or larger than the ones that occupy the Expo Bike Path beneath the 405 overpass?

    Reply
  5. Brigitta
    Brigitta says:

    I am excited too about the bike path but still confused a bit as to routes being temporary and permanent. For the rest of the path that is currently open, my kids and I can bike on it and it’s relatively flat. But for this Northvale Gap, there’s such a steep grade getting up the hill. Is this only going to be the case in the temporary path, or will it be mitigated in the final construction? If it will be, great! If not, then the whole point of the bike path will be lost if people find themselves unable to actually use it because it’s too steep!

    Reply
    • calwatch
      calwatch says:

      I recently biked it one evening and found Northvale to be too steep except climbing it at a low gear. It is not going to work for people with beach cruisers or utility bikes.

      Reply
  6. Ryan Snyder
    Ryan Snyder says:

    I’ll take the progress. I suggest that the interim solution contain greenback sharrows for higher visibility.

    Reply
  7. Jaime
    Jaime says:

    option 1 and 2 will not be providing much more than what the temporary solution already provides and I think it will be a waste of money, as many other folks here have mentioned, the street is too steep. I ride my bike a lot in the west side, and i recommend you build it in the trench (option 3), that is the only way that it will be safe and easier (flat) to ride.

    Reply
    • Eric
      Eric says:

      I think the steep segment you talk about is separate from options 1, 2, and 3. It is a trenched path from Motor just north of the freeway, eventually connecting with Northvale at Dunleer. Presumably the slope of the trenched bit can be controlled.

      Reply

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