Broadway to trade in traffic lanes for pedestrian space in streetscape project
A rendering of the new Broadway shows less lanes of traffic and more pedestrian space.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — The L.A. City Council has voted to fund the first phase of Broadway's transformation from a busy thoroughfare into a more pedestrian-friendly street.
Phase I of the "Broadway Streetscape Master Plan" will cost an estimated $1.8 million and include a "reconfiguration" of Broadway's six lanes of traffic, into three lanes. The thoroughfare will turn into one southbound lane and two northbound lanes, for nine blocks between 2nd and 11th streets.
It also includes adding 24-hour curbside parking to the area to facilitate shopping and improve business activity.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) will be installing semi-permanent public spaces along Broadway that will be distinguished from the roadway by "pavement treatments and physical indicators."
This first phase is just the dress rehearsal, when temporary changes are made until funding can be secured for permanent solutions on a block-by-block basis, according to area councilman José Huizar's office. Officials will be looking at other public accessibility projects – such as the Sunset Triangle Plaza in Silver Lake – for design cues.
“This Phase I Dress Rehearsal will set the stage for the full implementation of a Streetscape Plan that prioritizes people over vehicles, and will make Broadway a safer, more pedestrian-oriented street," said Huizar in a statement. "This plan, along with the Downtown Streetcar and significant private economic investment on the historic street, makes Broadway’s future as bright as its past.”
But what is good news for pedestrians and local commerce, may be problematic for Downtown drivers.
Huizar's office said in a statement that these changes will help create "calmer traffic" and "predictable and streamlined vehicular travel," but there will be about half as many lanes as there currently are. And with the incoming streetcar as well as continued bus service, there is no doubt the lanes will be bustling.
But, city officials continue to emphasize the need for improved safety along Broadway. A Facebook post by Bringing Back Broadway cites two recent car accidents as evidence of why the street needs a complete overhaul. Last week, an SUV crashed through the Rite-Aid at the corner of 5th and Broadway, sending a few people to the hospital. In mid-June a Metro bus collided with a tow truck resulting in the death of the bus driver.
According to the City's Master Plan for the area, there are also safety concerns over the lack of buffer zones between the street and the sidewalk. Many pedestrians wait to cross the street or board the bus near the curb, with nothing separating them from oncoming traffic.
Officials hope to have Phase I completed by the end of this year.