December 2012 will mark the beginning of three major construction projects that are scheduled along Soto Street over the next six to seven years. The working scope of these projects will fall between the old Soto Street bridge at the intersection of North Soto Street, Mission Rd., and S. Huntington Dr. and continue to the
Valley Blvd. & Soto St. bridge. The order of construction fall within three phases beginning with the demolition of the Soto Street bridge followed by the widening of North Soto Street, and finally conclude
with the replacement of the old train bridge on Soto Street and Valley Blvd.. The time frame for each of the three mammoth projects are approximately two years apart and will continue through the year 2018.

The purpose of removing the Soto Street Bridge is primarily to improve the efficiency of traffic movements along Mission Rd., Soto Street, and Huntington Dr. intersection, to eliminate the bridge as a seismic hazard, and to remove the bridge from the Federal Eligible Bridge list.

The Soto Street bridge was originally constructed in 1936 as a grade separation for the Pasadena Short Line of the Pacific Railway System to enhance public safety. The railroad tracks were removed during the 1960’s when the Pacific Railway Red Car went out of business and subsequently adapted for automobile usage.

The demolition of the dated Soto Street bridge has been in the City’s planning books for years but was never funded until the project found joint Federal (80%) and city (20%) funding through Proposition G. This initial bridge removal project will call for the reconfiguration of the intersection (Soto/ Mission Rd./Huntington Dr.) and for a signalized intersection. North Soto Street will no longer run through and connect with South Huntington Dr. but will be diverted to Mission Rd. which will include bicycle lanes. The end of North Soto St. and South Huntington Dr. will be closed with cul-de-sacs . See diagram.

The second project which will begin approximately two years later with the widening of North Soto Street by approximately forty-five feet between Mission Rd and Multnomah Street. It also calls for a six foot walkway on the west side of Soto Street and two northbound and southbound lanes. The cost will be approximately eight million dollars. This project has yet to be finalized and is still available for significant public input since it is not scheduled to begin until 2014. There is currently 50% funding for this project.

The third phase of the three construction projects is the removal and replacement of the old train bridge that runs parallel to Soto Street and crosses above Valley Blvd.. This project is scheduled to begin construction in 2016 and conclude two years later in 2018. This replacement of the old train bridge will call for the removal and replacement and it will be converted into a pedestrian walkway primarily for the use of employees and patients from the University of Southern California (USC). This project also has much time for strong community input.

Our Association is rarely opposed to community improvement projects especially since they only seldom occur without much effort and funding but we do have many concerns with all three projects especially since they all seem to unevenly favor the many commuters who pass through our community and the large institutions adjacent to our communities rather than the residents who actually reside in them. Pedestrian traffic and safeguards is another area that truly needs to be re-evaluated so that it also has benefits for our residents and not just commuters and private institutions.

It is important that our community be informed and be involved in the community input and planning process of these projects since they could have significant and permanent impacts upon our communities. We must also make sure that the traffic plans during the construction of these projects will not dramatically impact our community and affect our daily and healthy standard of living since traffic will be seeking alternate routes to avoid the congestion caused by the construction.

There will be many public meetings in the future so that residents will have an opportunity to voice concerns or have questions answered, so stay informed through local community publications such as The Village Voice, Our Town Magazine, or The Voice Community News. We also have much current information and announcements on our community on our facebook at lahillsidevillage. Lastly, don’t hesitate to call the office of our Councilman for information. 

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