A little more than a mile of Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks will be repaved this weekend, as city crews begin what could become the first in a series of upgrades to Los Angeles' busiest traffic corridors.
Councilman Tom LaBonge and members of the Bureau of Street Services stood in front of a bulldozer at the Bank of America building Thursday to announce "Ventura Boulevard: Operation Street-Lift," a project that includes roadway resurfacing, tree trimming and the installation of concrete bus pads. The work will take place between Van Nuys Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway.
LaBonge, who began representing Sherman Oaks on July 1 due to redistricting, said he moved forward with the project after area leaders requested the repairs and showed him ripples in the pavement of the bus lanes. The buckled asphalt makes pedestrians lose their footing and cars wobble as motorists drive over them to make right turns. New pads -- strips of extra concrete at the curb line of bus stops -- can extend the life of the streets where they often see the most traffic.
"The reason for this gathering today is there are great community leaders here," LaBonge said. "An organized community is a community that gets things done. I'm just a conductor. They're the symphony."
Street resurfacing will begin Saturday night. The work will be done in the evening, but parking will be restricted for two weeks on Ventura Boulevard from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Already, 219 trees have been trimmed on Ventura, with 35 trees due to be planted. and the pads at all the strip's Metro stops have been replaced.
Ron Olive, assistant director for Street Services, said the Ventura Boulevard project is being done with existing funds, though he hopes his department will meet with council members in other districts in the coming weeks to discuss which heavily used corridors can be eligible for similar projects.
Street repairs have become a priority for newly elected mayor Eric Garcetti, who has promised voters full attention to the things that affect their daily lives -- which for many means filling potholes, fixing sidewalks and repairing damaged roads. In fact, on Wednesday the City Council fielded a proposal to fund a 10-year, $3 billion citywide street-repair program.
"This is an example of the mayor's back-to-basics priority," said Kevin James, who ran against Garcetti for the mayoral seat but who was recently appointed as president of the Board of Public Works. "This is going to be the administration's focus."
Members of various groups in Sherman Oaks said they were pleased that LaBonge responded to their requests.
Jules Feir, vice president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, said his group has worked hard for decades to keep their main drag spruced up, as evidenced by the hundreds of Chinese flame and ginkgo trees along the storied boulevard that have thrived since they raised funds to plant them about 20 years ago.
Feir and others, such as Bob Cohen, president of the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce, are pleased with the attention the area is receiving.
Each October, Sherman Oaks holds the largest street festival in the San Fernando Valley, and area leaders say it's always a concern when children and older people walk on cracked asphalt.
@sabramLA on Twitter