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Stakeholders Talk All Things Streetcar at Broadway Workshop

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008, at 07:00PM
Broadway Streetcar Workshop Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Participants at the Broadway streetcar workshop discuss design alternatives and priorities.

Today at the New LATC, 120 people gathered to talk about Broadway and how a streetcar might function on the important Downtown corridor. That larger-than-expected crowd included Downtown residents, business and property owners along with representatives from Metro and an array of city departments. The day's main focus was on discussing how the right-of-way would be broken down between streetcar, automobiles, buses and pedestrians.

After introductions by Councilman Jose Huizar and Bringing Back Broadway Executive Director Jessa Wethington Mclean, consultants from the IBI Group laid out how the event would work. They laid out a few ground rules, noting that exact routing wasn't on today's agenda, and that the discussion would assume a single running direction on Broadway, though that wasn't a final decision.

Of the major decisions that will be made as the streetcar design moves forward is how the line will integrate into the right-of-way, the full width of sidewalk and roadway between the buildings. Six design concepts were shown, presenting different approaches to how that space (roughly ninety feet on Broadway) would be broken up.

One of the major factors that can take a relatively inexpensive streetcar project and push its cost skyward is if the project is responsible for utility relocation. Broadway, because it used to house streetcars, has a utility-free zone in the center of the right-of-way. For that reason, three of the concepts showed the streetcar running over that center area.

After the initial presentation, the crowd was broken into seven smaller groups and led through the different designs. When the groups came back together to share their thoughts, a few common themes emerged.

Most importantly, each group emphasized that priority in the planning should go to pedestrians. Groups gravitated toward designs that narrowed the roadway, taking away traffic lanes in favor of extra sidewalk space and traffic calming bump-outs (designs A1 and A3 in particular).

Most groups gravitated toward the center-running designs, preferring to get a line up and running without the expense and time of utility relocation. One group made the case that the best design should be chosen instead, since over the life of the system the extra cost is less important than correct planning (that group was fond of design B2 below).

IBI Group, lead consultants on the CRA's streetcar study, will be taking the input from Thursday's session and putting together a Streetcar Design document that will be used to guide the project when it commences. Plans are currently in the works to create L.A. Streetcar, Inc., a nonprofit that would raise funding for the effort.


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