A section of Culver Boulevard between Sepulveda Boulevard and Elenda Street is going to get a makeover, with bike path improvements, median landscaping, new lighting, bio-swales, and new turn lanes.
The Culver City Department of Public Works held a community meeting on Tuesday to discuss proposed changes to this section of Culver Boulevard. In attendance were Public Works Charles Herbertson and other city engineers, and staff from the firm of Kimley-Horn and Associates, the design firm on the project.
"There's a lot of history behind this project," said Herbertson. He explained that the meeting's purpose was to find out what the community's thoughts were. "It's not a done deal. The concept is for your input."
In fact, the plan to realign Culver Boulevard was first discussed all the way back in the 1980s. The plan stayed dormant, said Herbertson, because of expenses.
"But we've pieced together a number of funding sources," he added. These include two million from a 2005 federal transportation bill, three million from Los Angeles, and two million from Culver City mitigation funds.
Anticipating that some might want to know why such funds can't be used for other important civic improvements, Herbertson noted that these funds must be used only for the Culver realignment project because that is the project they were allocated for.
A representative from Kimley-Horn showed the community members a video simulation of an aerial "drive" along the section of Culver that will be realigned. The video displayed both "before" and "after" views of the street.
Going east from Sepulveda, the aerial ride showed the bike path and pedestrian walkway in a median that will divide "Little Culver" on the north side of the street from "Big Culver" on the south side. A frontage road will run on the south side.
Passing Commonwealth and Arvee going east, Little Culver will have parking on one side and the frontage road will be one-way with parking.
There will be a full red light stop at the Culver-Huron Avenue intersection.
Also at Huron, there will be a "U-turn" lane in both directions.
At Elenda Street, there will be a left-turn lane from Culver and an existing bus stop will be left in place.
A bus stop at Culver and Harter Avenue may be removed to allow for parking realignment. The removal will depend on the extent of usage of the bus stop, which reportedly is low. (There are also stops at Sepulveda and Elenda).
Intersections will have a "table top" format, in which the pavement height will be raised to the height of the existing curb.
Street lighting will be improved, with Culver having lighting in the median, enhanced lighting along Little Culver, and bike and pedestrian path access lighting.
There will be seating areas along the paths. Trees that are in place will be maintained; new drought-tolerant trees will be planted.
Some relics of the former Culver City Hall, currently scattered over the area, will be incorporated into the new street design, possibly into seating nodes.
Bio-swales, the curb structures used for water collection, may be installed. Santa Monica has successfully installed bio-swales on some streets and Culver City may work with the city of Santa Monica on this part of the project.
Community members had questions and comments regarding the turn lanes, the kinds of trees to be planted, and creating more separation between the bike path and pedestrian walkway so as to prevent accidents.
"The best part is the red light stop," said one community member. "It will slow traffic."
Someone asked if power lines on the street could be put underground to help the realignment.
"The lines along the street are distribution and transmission lines-coils" said Herbertson. "To put them underground would be very expensive. It's not within out budget."
Another resident asked about the timeline of the project and was told that it looks to begin in the summer of 2015 and go for nine to 12 months.
Herbertson and the other representatives reminded everyone that these plans are only proposals, subject to changes according to community feedback and other factors.
The project is scheduled to come before the City Council within the next few months.