66 Years Ago Today: Design for 'Four Level' Interchange Unveiled
This rendering of the "Four Level" interchange connecting what today are the 110 and 101 freeways ran across the front page of the L.A. Times on July 6, 1947.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — While today it may be cursed for its traffic, the "Four Level" was quite the modern marvel when plans for the interchange that today connects the 110 and 101 freeways were first unveiled on April 21, 1944.
The design was "said to be the most unusual ever devised," according to the L.A. Times, which gave a rendering of the interchange prime placement on the front page.
The accolades continued in 1947, as construction grew closer. "One of the most intricate projects in the history of roadbuilding will get underway next week," the Times reported, again devoting a large chuck of A1 to a rendering.
Work on the interchange began that year, and was completed in 1949. It took 15,000 yards of cement and 3,500,000 pounds of reinforcing steel.
The superlatives didn't stop once construction started. "It's the fanciest whip-de-do of bridges, curving ramps and sweeping underpasses that you ever saw," the Times wrote on July 18, 1949. "And, in contrast to its gracefully curved ramps are its lofty and severe supporting columns. It's the most photogenic pile of cement in town."
The "stack" interchange was quite the advancement from earlier cloverleaf designs. It avoided conflict between entering and exiting traffic by providing distinct ramps between all travel options.
Traffic didn't flow through the full interchange until 1953, when construction on the adjoining freeways finally completed.
In 2006 the structure was officially renamed the 'Bill Keene Memorial Interchange' after the late KNXT-TV and KNX traffic and weather reporter.