My first landscape architecture transit project was back in 2002, working with Lauren Melendrez on the original Gold Line Light Rail Line from Pasadena to Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. This was my introduction to the world of transit planning, architecture, and engineering. Since then, I have worked on the Eastside Extension to East Los Angeles, and the Transit Oriented Development at the Del Mar Station. I later worked on the Exposition Light Rail Line Phase I and the Rosemead Boulevard Beautification Project, a transit project that added the first Cycle Track to the San Gabriel Valley. Also, while I was with Gruen Associates I worked on the sbX Rapid Bus Corridor in San Bernardino.
Fast forward to today at AHBE: I have just completed the installation of the Monrovia Station Square and the adjacent Streetscape Improvements. I am currently doing peer review on the Regional Connector stations, and we are in production on streetscape improvements to Carson Street in Hawaiian Gardens. I have also joined the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and American Society of Landscape Architecture’s Transportation Professional Practice Network, both furthering my connections with other transportation planning and design professionals.
In the process of working on these various types of transportation projects throughout the years, I’ve come to the realization these type of projects provide a sense of fulfillment because of their inherent complexity, alongside the real positive effects they can have on so many people using these public spaces. Whether it’s providing shade for someone waiting for a bus, creating tree canopy habitat for birds, installing benches to encourage neighborhood interactions, coordinating art installations to add beauty and/or a historic reference element, or creating infiltration planters for storm water retention and groundwater recharge – and thus helping to increase adjacent property values – these projects are always beneficial to various users.
As a new member of the Transportation Professional Practice Networks last year, I presented a couple of slides of introduction at the ASLA National Convention. I included the photo above – an image from the Gold Line Southwest Museum Station – for several significant reasons. First, for the storm clouds in the background that looked particularly beautiful that day and hinted of much needed incoming rainfall. The photo also reminded me of all the naysayers who “rained” on our parade with pessimist predictions; some claimed when the novelty wore off, there wouldn’t be many Angeleno riders who would use the rail regularly.
Well, I am happy to say I ride this very line – from this exact train station – every day and it’s often standing room only. And on March 5th of this year, the extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena (Sierra Madre) to Azusa will open, connecting even more communities!
Yes, historically Los Angeles has been defined as the city of individual private vehicles. But I am glad and relieved about visible change happening. The city is responding to environmental, mobility, and safety issues, with investment in our city’s transportation corridors and related infrastructure to benefit Angelenos today, and more importantly tomorrow.
P.S. Commuters should check out the recently released app Go LA, an iOS (and Android) app that provides transportation information for those getting to work by car, public transit, bicycle, taxi, Lyft, and more.