Soon after work wraps up in January on the new freeway ramps where the 405 crosses over Wilshire Boulevard, crews will begin tearing up Wilshire all over again — this time to add a dedicated bus rapid transit lane west of the freeway. The county Board of Supervisors last week gave the go-ahed to move forward on the portion of Wilshire that runs through the big VA campus just west of the 405. From ZevWeb:
Martha Butler, director of regional transit planning for Metro, the lead agency for the project as a whole, said the new lane is essential to speeding up bus travel times along Wilshire.
“It’s the most important corridor in the county, our No. 1 in terms of ridership,” Butler said. She said the bus station at Bonsall, serving the V.A., is particularly heavily used, with 700 boardings a day.
“It really provides a critical service to veterans,” she said.
Butler noted that the new bus lane is an addition to the existing lanes on Wilshire and will not usurp any current travel space. Construction will take place in phases, beginning with the north side of Wilshire, and two lanes will remain open in each direction throughout the project. In addition to the new bus lane, there will be longer left-turn pockets on westbound Wilshire at San Vicente and on eastbound Wilshire at Sepulveda.
An initial segment of the BRT project—which in its entirety will span 12.5 miles, including 7.7 miles for buses only during peak hours—opened in June from MacArthur Park to Western Avenue. Construction on the segment running from Western to San Vicente is expected to begin this month.
When the whole project is completed in November, 2014, average travel times along the corridor are expected to improve by 24% and spark a bus ridership increase of 15% to 20%.