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Busy Broadway To Get a "Road Diet"

Part of the 10 year plan for Broadway is providing more pedestrian space and amenities on Broadway in addition to the streetcar project. An overview of the "Road Diet" that will be tried on Broadway is featured on a Bringing Back Broadway web page.  The whole master plan is available on a PDF from the city planning department.

A June 27 story on Curbed LA summarized the changes: "The dress rehearsal will bring semi-permanent changes to Broadway that include reconfiguring the street from four traffic lanes to three between Second and Eleventh Streets. Bus service will be streamlined, crosswalk widths shortened so it's easier for pedestrians to get across the street, and 24-hour curbside parking and loading will be added as a boon to businesses."

Those three traffic lanes are to be configured as one southbound and two northbound. Broadway currently has six lanes. While two of the stated goals are to reduce traffic speed on Broadway and improve loading for businesses, it's uncertain how this will affect future redevelopment of certain theatres.

With a reduction in lanes  there may actually be reduced loading opportunities on Broadway. For several theatres, such as the Arcade, Broadway is the only way a show could come into the building -- there are no rear exits or loading doors.  Previous word from the city was that they would like to discourage the theatres from loading in from Broadway.










The simulation above gives us a look at how widened sidewalks will affect the look of Broadway.  It's unknown how soon the changes will be implemented but the desired goal is to get it done by the end of 2013. 

On June 28 the city council approved $1.5 million in funding for the first phase -- sort of a dress rehearsal with some temporary elements to assess how traffic is behaving.  The use of temporary low-cost materials will give the city a chance to make changes in the design before more permanent construction. Lately the traffic has been behaving badly. 5th and Broadway has had two recent incidents with cars plowing into stores.

















The photo above, a June 28 post on the BBB Facebook page, shows traffic a bit out of place. Into the RiteAid, that is. The incident occurred just hours after the council approved funding.











Here we get another look from the BBB website showing how the Phase 1 "dress rehearsal" would affect one sidewalk area.

One historically-minded negative response so far has come from Kim Cooper, commenting on the July 1 story on Blogdowntown. Kim notes that "The heart of Broadway is on the National Register for a reason: it is a nearly perfectly intact early 20th century urban American downtown, containing the largest collection of historic theaters in the country...

It would be very easy for sweeping changes to be made to the Broadway streetscape that are not based in the classical traditions, and that mar the beauty of the historic boulevard. If you look one block east, to Spring Street, you'll see the many recent, and extremely contemporary, permanent and semi-permanent additions to the landscape: brightly colored parklettes stocked with exercise bikes and foosball tables, the mega-graphic covered fence of the new park, etc...

Broadway is not the place for modernistic street furniture, contemporary graphics or trendy color choices. It is a traditional and organic space that needs to be treated with great care, so that what is wonderful about it can be preserved, improved upon and maintained for future generations..."

Lots of other articles are surfacing about the project including a July 2 story on LA Streets Blog and a July 4 article in LA Downtown News.  Atlantic Magazine's Cities blog weighed in with a July 5 story.

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