Story by Alison Wang
Photo by Erin Lee
The city council approved the reallocation of 162 thousand dollars worth of Metro grant funds to increase the number of streets in the city’s Slow Streets Program at their meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The program intends to use the grant funding to implement temporary traffic controls and study the effects of them on street safety.
The Slow Streets Program targets streets close to multifamily housing, active transportation infrastructure and key destinations. By slowing down traffic, the program aims to make a safer environment for cars, pedestrians, and bicycles. The Slow Streets Program is used by other cities, but the major push for the program in South Pasadena was from local group Save Meridian for its Residents Together (SMART) Families in 2020. The grant given by L.A. Metro in 2021 had remaining money from an earlier traffic study, and reallocation of funds allows the city to use as much money as possible for the project.
In order for temporary traffic controls to be implemented, the council approved 114 thousand dollars for city manager Arminé Chaparyan to negotiate a contract amendment with Alta Planning + Design Inc. Alta will be responsible for working on the demonstration project alongside the city. At the meeting, Mayor Mahmud advocated for the testing of the following streets: Meridian Ave., Oak St., Grand Ave., Arroyo Ave., Mission St., Monterey Rd., and Garfield Ave. The exact measures implemented are not yet decided however possible measures could include more visible stop signs or bike lanes on the streets.
While the concept of reallocating the Metro grant funds was generally supported, several councilmembers voiced concerns regarding the process of choosing streets to be studied.
“Instead of narrowing down [possible streets] to slow streets, I’d like to eliminate the words slow streets and give the city council manager more authority to expand [and not] limit it to slow streets,” councilmember Jack Donovan said.
The timeliness of the motion was another topic of concern among both city employees and community members. As the grant is only valid for the remainder of the year, councilmembers stressed the importance of accelerating the project.
“It’s very difficult for us to define what we are going to do because unless the design is complete, we do not know the exact treatments…Some of that equipment requires special orders. This specific proposal had a timeline of four to six months…but the contract has three and a half months to design, implement, and bill us, so we are working on [an] extremely tight schedule so I am very concerned we may place an order on the equipment and there may be a backorder on the equipment,” Public Works Director Shahid Abbas said in a public comment.
It is unclear which specific streets will be chosen however additional details will likely be announced in the near future. A special meeting on the additional streets added to the Slow Streets Program is set to be scheduled soon.