New Preferred Concepts Revealed for El Monte’s Main Street Mall and Valley Boulevard
In an effort to please various groups of merchants at El Monte’s Main Street Mall, the El Monte Complete Streets project team has shared new preferred concepts for multimodal improvements. These concepts aim to address the concerns of two camps of merchants: those who support a full vehicular closure on Main Street to create a pedestrian paseo, and those who want to keep the road open to car traffic.
Previous concerns raised by a shop owner about the potential impact of a vehicular closure on Main Street were noted during a public workshop in June. To gather more feedback and input, the EM Complete Streets team met with 23 stakeholders from El Monte’s business community in August, particularly focusing on concepts for the Mall.
Last Wednesday, another public workshop was held to present the reconfigured concepts based on the feedback received from the business outreach. The two breakout groups showed contrasting themes and preferred options for the Mall improvements.
One potential compromise that was suggested is the use of removable bollards. These bollards would allow for closures to accommodate events, similar to the current farmers’ market, or for longer-term closures starting from the farmers’ market day and extending through the following Monday, providing flexibility in the use of the space.
Steven Wright, Project Manager for El Monte Complete Streets, emphasized that the process might involve a group initially in favor of the closure, while the other group needs time to see the positive benefits. The idea is to gradually transition to a pedestrian-and-bicycle-only zone on Main Street as people become accustomed to the change.
At the workshop, two business owners spoke in favor of a full closure. Jose Nava, owner of David’s Jewelers, stated that closing the street would create a safer environment for pedestrians, allowing people to walk more freely and attracting more customers. Another shopkeeper, who chose to remain anonymous, expressed concerns about safety and believed that closing the street would prevent robberies, making both the stores and families feel safer.
More public outreach efforts are planned, including an event at Fletcher Dog Park on October 18, the Day of the Dead Festival on Main Street on October 21, and a targeted meeting with the Downtown El Monte Business Association to be announced in November. These events aim to gather more feedback and engage the community in the decision-making process.
In addition to the discussions surrounding street closures, other notable proposals were presented at the workshop. One proposal suggested the removal of on-street parking on Main Street due to visibility concerns, such as blocked business signage and potential collision risks. The space currently occupied by parking could be repurposed to create wider sidewalks, offering opportunities for outdoor dining, streetscape improvements, and temporary events.
Another proposal showcased the incorporation of roundabouts along Main Street, including a larger roundabout at the Tyler Avenue and Main intersection. These roundabouts not only improve safety and serve as traffic calming features but also provide aesthetic opportunities to create entry monuments to the downtown area.
The concept of pedestrianizing certain side streets off Main Street, particularly El Monte Avenue, was also highlighted. This paseo would connect Main Street to the existing Metrolink station, with plans for future development north of Valley tying into the project.
To address concerns raised by merchants regarding the shift away from car culture, the project team proposed three gateway features strategically placed along Valley Boulevard and Santa Anita Avenue. These features would serve as entry points to the downtown district, bringing awareness to Main Street for passersby.
Parking lot upgrades were also discussed as an integral part of the project, aiming to improve the functionality and safety of the lots. Detailed concepts for the parking lots are yet to be developed, but lighting was mentioned as a critical component.
Valley Boulevard, another key area for improvement, showed promising concepts for multimodal enhancements. Bike lanes, currently absent on Valley, were proposed to run across the length of the city. The team also suggested the use of HAWK signals (High Intensity Activated Crosswalks) and raised islands at uncontrolled crossings to improve pedestrian safety. Relocating bus stops and adding bus islands were other ideas to enhance transportation accessibility along Valley.
The proposed concepts for the Main Street Mall and Valley Boulevard have generated interest and momentum for the El Monte Complete Streets project. Although decisions are not set in stone, there is an opportunity to make adjustments and refinements in response to community input.
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