By Sue Favor
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A federal grant awarded to the city of Los Angeles last month will bring a variety of improvements to the Broadway-Manchester corridor of South Los Angeles within the next five years.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the city $18 million as part of the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program. The local proposal was one of 24 projects across the country to be awarded the funds. And because the criteria included, for the first time, addressing climate change, environmental justice and racial equality, local leaders are calling the grant a win for the community.
“This funding supports our larger efforts to address nearly a half-century of disinvestment in our South Los Angeles neighborhoods and its infrastructure,” Eighth District City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said.
Selena Reynolds, general manager of the city Department of Transportation, said city officials were looking toward the future when they applied for grant monies.
“When the administration put out the call for new thinking on infrastructure, Los Angeles was ready to deliver,” Reynolds said. “We know that how we invest in transportation has far-reaching impacts on economic growth, the safety of streets and the health of communities.”
The project area includes streets from Manchester Avenue and Vermont Avenue South, East to South Broadway, and along Broadway to Imperial Highway. Funds will also go toward the Community Infrastructure and Resiliency Zone, which runs from East Adams Boulevard east to South Central Avenue, to Imperial Highway and bordered by Vermont on the west perimeter. The area encompasses sections of council districts 8, 9 and 15.
Funds will go toward creating 26 new traffic signals, and enhancing 90 pedestrian crosswalks to give those on foot extra time to cross the street. The project also will include the creation of bike lanes and the planting of numerous trees to create natural shade along streets.
According to information from Harris-Dawson’s office, the area is prime for improvement due to a perfect storm of conditions. First, numerous residents rely on walking, biking or public transportation. The lack of trees and parks in the area have created hotter temperatures and uncomfortable conditions, as well as poor air quality, which is also exacerbated by the nearby Harbor (110) Freeway.
“What is before us today, with the [federal] investment of $18 million being put into our South L.A. streets and infrastructure, is a promise of better mobility and safer streets for our families and neighbors to enjoy,” Ninth District Councilman Curren Price said.
Harris-Dawson credited the late local pastor Edwin Lawrence Williams for having the vision for the improvements several years ago. The councilman said he was inspired to form the Broadway-Manchester Active Transportation Equity Project, which hosted a series of community meetings to collect input on perceived needs. About 1,300 residents expressed improvement preferences that were included in the grant proposal.
He said the improvement project brings relief to the area while addressing the systemic racism that initially caused the conditions.
“The investment will augment the work we’ve done to address racial equity and environmental justice with the installation of protected bike lanes, enhanced street lighting and the addition of trees and high visibility crosswalks in the Broadway-Manchester community,” Harris-Dawson said.
The project is anticipated to break ground by December 2023, and will be completed by December 2026.
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.