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Work set to begin on major bike-friendly Figueroa makeover

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My Figueroa should be complete by 2017

A long awaited project that will transform a four-mile stretch of Figueroa Street is finally ready to begin today, with a groundbreaking ceremony kicking off this afternoon.

The Figueroa Corridor Streetscape project, also known as My Figueroa (or if you really want to get cute, My Fig), will bring a plethora of changes to the thoroughfare with the aim of making it more accessible to walkers, bicyclists, and public transit users.

Part of the city’s Complete Streets initiative, the project will extend along Figueroa from 7th Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard, with feeder routes along 11th Street and MLK Boulevard. Bike lanes will be added along this route, with 2.6 miles of protected lanes running through 27 intersections—separating bicyclists from vehicle traffic and offering connections to rail and bus routes.

Bus platforms will also be added, with a diamond lane to accommodate the Silver Line rapid bus during peak hours. Platforms will eventually also be added for the still supposedly happening Downtown Streetcar.

New bike-only traffic signals and bike boxes at intersections will give bicyclists a head start on vehicle traffic and help to protect cyclists from right-turning drivers.

Other improvements along the thoroughfare will include new street lights, repaired sidewalks, continental (zebra-striped) crosswalks for greater pedestrian visibility, and new signage geared toward pedestrians and bicyclists. The street is also set to receive a visual makeover, with new tree plantings and public art at transit stops.

The project is funded by a 2010 grant from Proposition 1C, a voter-approved bond measure providing money for affordable housing development and transit-oriented improvements. Originally, the project was supposed to be complete by 2015, but numerous delays, including a lawsuit filed by a car dealer, stalled the project. Now, officials expect work to be completed in 2017.