Big changes are in store for Studebaker Road.
Long Beach officials gave the first glimpse Tuesday night of what the thoroughfare could look like after the city breaks ground on a renovation project that will add a protected bike lane and other safety features between Los Coyotes Diagonal and Second Street.
City officials have sought to complete the Studebaker Road project for years and have worked to secure the funds to carry out the “Complete Streets” improvements, which could increase safety for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.
Public Works Director Eric Lopez said the designs are still being finalized, but the department plans to put the project out to bid in the spring or summer of 2023 with an expectation of breaking ground in the fall.
“I know at least three of us are elated,” said Councilmember Suzie Price, who represents areas of the city that include the southern parts of the project. “We’ve been asking for this project to be completed and prioritized for a very long time now.”
Conceptual plans shared with the City Council on Tuesday show a protected bike lane on the west side of Studebaker Road stretching along the 5-mile segment from Second Street to Los Coyotes Diagonal. Some segments will be separated from traffic by being located on the sidewalk while other stretches will be separated by a concrete barrier.
“That concrete barrier will replace those bollards and create a real buffer for cyclists and create a buffer that’s more appealing for the community at large,” said 5th District Councilmember Stacy Mungo Flanigan, referencing the green bollards that had been a contentious issue for some East Long Beach residents.
Other improvements could include things like new curb ramps, bus stop enhancements, new crosswalks, flashing beacons and a gateway entry sign where Studebaker intersects Los Coyotes Diagonal.
The council voted Tuesday to accept an $8.75 million grant from LA Metro to help pay for the project. The total project cost is estimated at over $18.5 million, with the city using other county tax revenue and Measure A bond money to help fund the project.
Studebaker Road, Anaheim Street and Market Street were all corridors identified by the city for major overhauls in the most recently adopted budget, for which the city allocated about $34 million.
The Studebaker project could introduce lane reductions between Second Street and Loynes Drive, as a median with hardscape and drought-tolerant plants could be installed to separate north and southbound traffic, according to the concepts.
The project would also reconfigure the intersection of Los Coyotes Diagonal and Studebaker Road, which currently meets in a “T” with medians that don’t allow northbound traffic to make left turns onto Los Coyotes and prevents southbound traffic on Los Coyotes from making a left onto Studebaker.
While the designs are not final, the concepts show the existing medians being removed and smaller medians with landscaping that allows for turns being added. Northbound traffic on Studebaker would also be redirected by a new curb extension on the southeast corner of the intersection with Los Coyotes.
“These are some safety improvements that will also improve the efficiency of pedestrians trying to cross the street and vehicles trying to pass through this busy intersection,” Lopez said Tuesday.
The city has a number of street improvements aimed at improving driver and pedestrian safety, like the Market Street and Artesia Corridor projects that broke ground earlier this year and other projects Downtown meant to increase walkability.
After the City Council on Tuesday discussed potential speed limit reductions for over 100 segments of city streets, the body will likely vote on an ordinance next year. There have been a total of 41 traffic fatalities in Long Beach in 2022.