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Scramble Crossings Coming to L.A., but Not for the First Time

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, August 05, 2008, at 09:11PM
L.A. Times

This photo of a scramble crossing at 7th & Broadway ran in the August 22, 1956, edition of the L.A. Times.

This morning, the Times' transportation guru, Steve Hymon, reported on the city's plan to install scramble crossings at several intersections, including four in the Fashion District. The first would go in Westwood, at Le Conte and Westwood. Scramble crossings save all pedestrian movements for one time, allowing unimpeded right turns for cars and giving walkers the ability to cross an intersection diagonally.

While Hymon calls the Westwood intersection L.A.'s first, it's hardly that. One pilot program turned seventeen Downtown intersections into scramble crossings, way back in August of 1956.

The 1956 experiment was conducted in the area bounded by 5th, 8th, Main and Hill. Initial reactions were that the pilot was a success, with various city departments saying that the new movements reduced congestion.

An October report on the system told that midday traffic flow was improved by the new crosswalks, while the evening rush hour traffic was slightly impacted. In all, "its advantages outweigh its drawbacks," according to reports in the October 15, 1956, edition of the Times.

The system, originally a 90-day trial, hung on until 1958 and expanded to 25 intersections. In the end, delays in vehicle movement were cited as the cause for its demise. Downtown's scramble intersections reverted to normal behavior on April 25, 1958. In typical L.A. fashion, no mention was made on how the scramble system or the "shared green" plan that replaced it benefited or harmed pedestrian movement.

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