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Fifty-Five Years Ago Today: Plans for 4th Street 'Cut' Unveiled

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, November 25, 2008, at 09:45AM
4th Street Eric Richardson [Flickr]

4th street, shown as it transitions from viaduct to cut approaching Hope street in a 2007 photo.

On November 25, 1953, city officials presented detailed plans for the viaduct-cut that would take 4th street over Figueroa and Flower and under Hope and Grand. The plan, which the Times called a "sort of roller-coaster loop over Bunker Hill," replaced a previous agreement to build a tunnel under Bunker Hill.

In 1946, the city and state reached an agreement on how Downtown streets would be reshaped to accommodate new traffic from the planned Harbor Freeway. 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th would be turned into one-way streets. At the time, 4th street dead-ended at Flower street. In order for it to carry traffic as part of a one-way pair with 3rd street, the street would have to be continued across Bunker Hill.

After agreeing to the tunnel, cost estimates made some city officials think twice. In 1949, Councilman Kenneth Hahn protested the $3.6 million project, arguing that the money could be best spent elsewhere in the city.

Plans for the open cut alternative were first released late in 1952, but the plan wasn't approved until November of 1953. The approved design would connect a 687-foot viaduct with a 32-foot deep cut through part of Bunker Hill. The state would pay for the viaduct portion, while the city would bear the cost for the cut and paving.

The new roadway was anticipated to open in January of 1956, but the three-quarter complete project was slowed in the winter of 1955 by a teamsters' strike. The stretch eventually did make it open in May.

For those curious about how steep the slope is on 4th, the stretch from Grand to Olive has an 8% grade, with the steepness rising to 14% between Olive and Hill.


"Mayor Seeks Funds for 4th St. Tunnel :City-State '46 Pact on Harbor Freeway Requires Decision." Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif.] 28 Jul 1949, A1. Proquest

"Tunnel Plan Protested by Councilman." Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif.] 2 Aug. 1949,17. Proquest

"Great Program to Make 4th St. Major Route Told :Projects Include 800-Foot Open Cut to Eliminate Sharp Grade West of Olive St.." Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif.] 30 Nov. 1952, F1. Proquest

"4th St. Cut Project Will Change Face of Bunker Hill Downtown Area. " Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif.] 26 Nov. 1953. Proquest

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