Caltrans wants to widen Lincoln from Jefferson to Fiji Way for cars, bikes and pedestrians
By Gary Walker and Joe Piasecki
Lincoln Boulevard at rush hour can feel like an overcrowded Costco parking lot — especially around the Ballona Wetlands, where drivers lose a lane, pedestrians don’t have a sidewalk, and bicyclists just have to hope for the best.
To relieve the bottleneck, Caltrans is proposing to widen a 0.6-mile segment of Lincoln between Jefferson Boulevard in Playa Vista and Fiji Way in Marina del Rey. The roughly $28-million project would add traffic lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks in each direction by replacing the Depression-era Lincoln Boulevard Bridge over Ballona Creek and Culver Boulevard Bridge over Lincoln.
Work wouldn’t begin for another four years, but locals got a preview of the project last Wednesday during an initial scoping meeting at Westchester Municipal Building Community Room on Manchester Boulevard.
Roughly 60 people attended the meeting, offering a mixed bag of commentary, including concern for the adjacent wetlands.
One concept for the project would keep the existing alignment of Lincoln Boulevard, widening it to the east and west. Another concept, this one providing connectivity to the Ballona Creek Bike Path, would realign Lincoln to the east. Each consider “minimal” or “limited” impacts to immediately adjacent portions of the Ballona Wetlands, according to a project presentation.
Wetlands advocate Kathy Knight pressed representatives of Psomas, the consulting engineering firm that Caltrans has hired to design the project, about whether wild-life would face new dangers from an expanded roadway, let alone it’s two-year construction period.
Kathleen Brady, the company’s lead environmental planner, acknowledged that her firm had conducted environmental surveys within the wetlands and that it was possible some construction work might touch portions of the wetlands. “But at this point it hasn’t been determined,” she said.
Others questioned whether adding more space for cars won’t just encourage more cars to use the road, as studies have found that expanding freeway capacity tends to accommodate additional vehicles at peak hours rather than reduce congestion.
Joseph Campanella, a resident of the La Villa Marina complex near Fiji Way, likes the idea of bike lanes and a functional sidewalk along Lincoln. He talked about surviving a couple of near misses with passing cars while walking along the shoulder.
Kent Strumpell, who represents the area on the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, is enthusiastic about bike lanes and encouraged planners not to be minimalist about them.
“Just bike lanes as they are currently being implemented are not sufficient to address the current problems that exist for cyclists in this area,” said Strumpell, a Westchester resident. “We have an opportunity now to implement high-quality lanes because [the project] is in its preliminary stages.”
A news article published prior to the meeting at argonautnews.com attracted comments similar to those offered during the meeting.
“If this includes a bike lane, I’m all for it,” reads one of them. “We could then bike safely from Westchester to the bike path.”
Visit dot.ca.gov/d7/projects/ to view a slideshow from the meeting. To have comments or questions considered in the initial scoping report, email them to Lincoln_Blvd@dot.ca.gov by April 16.