Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pedestrian Upgrades Needed Near Proposed Gold Line Terminus in Whittier

The point on the map shows the proposed terminus of the Gold Line at the intersection of Washington Boulevard (the east-west street) and Lambert Road.  Uptown Whittier is the area around Greenleaf Avenue and Philadelphia Street.  There are no crosswalks on Whitter Boulevard between Philadelphia and Washington.  Click the image for a clearer view.  Image: Google Maps.
LA County Metro has proposed an extension of the Gold Line light rail to reach the City of Whittier or South El Monte.  If the Measure M transportation sales tax passes on November 8th, both extensions would be built.  The Whittier line would end on Washington Boulevard, around Lambert Road, just west of Whittier Boulevard, near the Five Points intersection where Whittier Boulevard, Washington Boulevard and Pickering Avenue intersect.  This is actually walking distance from Uptown Whittier, the City's historic downtown, but the walk leaves a lot to be desired, as I was reminded the other day when I tried to walk from Uptown to the Kaiser on the west side of Whittier Boulevard.  The walk was very similar to the way that you would walk to the future Gold Line station.

First of all, crossing Whittier Boulevard, a four-lane arterial road, where cars drive quickly, as a pedestrian, between Philadelphia Street and Five Points, is extremely dicey.  There are no crosswalks on this 0.8 mile (1.3 km) stretch, despite the fact that there are two signalized intersections, at Mar Vista Street and Pacific Place where there definitely should be opportunities for people on foot to cross.  This results in absurd situations where people who live on the east side of Whittier Boulevard would be forced to drive to reach destinations right across the street or walk way out of their way to the actual crosswalks.  The crosswalks that exist at Philadelphia and Five Points aren't great due to the width and speed of the streets, but at least they exist.

Looking east across Whittier Boulevard at Pacific Place.  Signs warn pedestrians not to cross and no crosswalks have been provided.  Residents right across the street have no legal way to cross the street as pedestrians to the medical facilities on the west side.  They would be forced to walk down to Five Points, a complex and dangerous intersection of three large streets, to walk to the future Gold Line, or more likely, to drive.
I beat the odds and walked to the other side of the street.  On my way back, I walked down to Five Points.  On the way, I noticed that Whittier Boulevard doesn't even have complete sidewalks.

The west side of Whittier Boulevard lacks complete sidewalks just north of Washington Boulevard.  This situation causes blight and makes the street inaccessible to the disabled.
This would be a logical walking route from the future Gold Line terminus, but the pedestrian infrastructure is nonexistent.  While an able-bodied person can walk across the dirt and trash, an elderly person, or a person with a disability, would be hard-pressed to navigate the obstacles created by the clear devaluing of pedestrians that has occurred here.

Getting closer to Five Points, I noticed that there are also missing curb ramps in the direct path that would lead people from the Gold Line to Uptown.

Without curb ramps, disabled pedestrians have no access to Five Points from the north side of Washington Boulevard, making their access to Uptown Whittier all the more difficult.  This photo looks west down Washington Boulevard.  The Gold Line Terminus would be visible in the photo once built.
In short, Whittier has a lot of work to do before people will be able to get off the Gold Line and actually access the most interesting part of the city.  That work needs to start as soon as possible.

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