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Vision Zero focuses on South LA with its high rate of traffic crashes

City officials held the latest in a series of community open houses in Exposition Park Thursday night to highlight proposed safety projects in South Los Angeles, where a disproportionate number of serious and fatal crashes have occurred in recent months.

The officials gathered feedback from the community on the effort to make the streets safer through the city initiative called Vision Zero. Proposed improvements include re-striping traffic lanes to make them clearer, more bike lanes, new crossing lights that give pedestrians a head start and curb bulb-outs that force cars to make wider, slower turns.

The projects are all part of an effort to reverse a troubling spike in traffic fatalities citywide.

In 2016, traffic deaths jumped more than 40 percent over the previous year and preliminary numbers show they are increasing at a similar pace this year over the same period last year.

Already this year, there have been 11 traffic deaths in South L.A. The community has 16 of the 40 streets deemed the most dangerous in the city, based on an analysis by the L.A. Department of Transportation.

Local resident Crystal Johnson attended the Thursday night meeting near Exposition Park to learn about the proposed safety measures. "There’s a lot of accidents. My son has a few friends that got hit and one killed, unfortunately," she said.

Johnson made her way around a room full of poster boards showing heat maps of intersections where crashes most occur. Other posters showed mockup designs of safety measures, with space for community members to submit their comments and suggestions on sticky notes.

Vision Zero posters show heat maps where accidents most occur on South L.A. streets. Designs for safety improvements are also displayed.
Meghan McCarty/KPCC
Vision Zero posters show heat maps where accidents most occur on South L.A. streets. Designs for safety improvements are also displayed.

Community member Lana Nash offered her thoughts on a proposal to relocate an area bus stop.

"The rapid bus and the regular buses should stop at the same location rather than be across the street from one another," she said. "Sometimes people they’ll run across to catch it and that can be dangerous."

The Vision Zero program has a new infusion of funding following debate at the City Council over how to spend revenue from two new transportation taxes. That resulted in raising the program's budget from $3 million to $27 million.

The increased funding is allowing the city to focus resources on safety projects for the most dangerous corridors over the next year.

A second open house in South L.A. to gather more feedback on the safety projects will be held on Thursday, June 8, at the Mark Ridley-Thomas Constituent Service Center, 8475 S. Vermont Ave., from 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.