A major transportation study that began this week could help communities northeast of Los Angeles win mass transit funds that the San Fernando Valley has lost because of homeowner opposition, Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre said.
The 18-month study of a wide area northeast of downtown Los Angeles will be conducted by the Southern California Assn. of Governments as part of a regional transportation plan that will be used in the distribution of federal transit funds in the metropolitan area.
The $500,000 study, funded by the Urban Mass Transit Administration, will cover the communities of East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, Highland Park and Eagle Rock as well as western Pasadena and the cities of South Pasadena, Alhambra and Monterey Park.
Alatorre, chairman of a committee of elected officials that was formed to oversee the study, said Monday that he expects the study to show a need in the area for better public transportation, including light rail, freeway improvements and possibly a Metro Rail line.
The Northeast area is competing with the San Fernando Valley and communities north of Los Angeles International Airport for the next light-rail line, expected to be opened in 1994. Several routes are under consideration for a light-rail line connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena.
Until last week, the San Fernando Valley, because of its political strength in Sacramento, was considered to have the edge. However, because of growing homeowner opposition to a rail line, the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission abruptly halted a $1.6-million study to select a San Fernando Valley route.
"Maybe as a result . . . we will be the beneficiary in this particular area," Alatorre said. "I think this area is more receptive to a better transportation system."
A fact sheet prepared by SCAG portrayed the area as having significant transit deficiencies.
Portions of nine state and interstate freeways converge in the area, "creating some of the most significant and heavily congested regional freeway interchanges," the fact sheet said.
Three of those freeways, the Foothill, Long Beach and Pasadena, end within the area, dumping heavy traffic onto neighborhood streets, it said. Traffic on the Pasadena Freeway, the oldest in Southern California, also is hampered by design deficiencies, it said.
In population, the area is one of "transit dependency" because of its high percentage of elderly and low-income families, Alatorre said.
Because of its strategic location between job centers in downtown Los Angeles and the rapid population growth in San Bernardino and Riverside counties to the east, the area will grow increasingly important as a commuter corridor, the fact sheet said.
The last transportation study of the area was conducted in the early 1970s.