Award-winning Design of Broadway Streetscape Plan radically redesigns street, eliminating lane of traffic to create large pedestrian space along historic Broadway corridor in Downtown
Los Angeles, CA (August 28, 2014) –Councilmember José Huizar and Seleta J. Reynolds, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) hosted a celebration Thursday of the completion of the “dress rehearsal” and Phase One of the award-winning and innovative Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, a new pedestrian plaza that spans 10 city blocks in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.
The event drew community members, civic and business leaders and city officials – all gathered to witness Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway’s and LADOT’S newly reconfigured pedestrian spaces and seating areas. Attendees also enjoyed music and delicious food options at the Grand Central Market at 3rd & Broadway.
The “dress rehearsal” is the first phase of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan that implements numerous groundbreaking pedestrian-oriented, traffic-calming upgrades along the historic Broadway corridor. The project was spearheaded by Councilmember Huizar and his Bringing Back Broadway initiative and is a collaboration among his office, Downtown stakeholders, and numerous public and private agencies working together to create one of Los Angeles’ first large scale Complete Streets projects.
“Five years ago, the idea of reducing vehicle lanes in favor of pedestrian areas was relatively unheard of in Los Angeles, but we knew we wanted to prioritize people over vehicles and create something very special for Broadway,” said Councilmember José Huizar, whose Bringing Back Broadway initiative champions the revitalization of the Broadway historic district in Downtown L.A. “Today, we see the physical manifestation of years of work and how dramatically these changes are affecting Broadway for the better. After years on a down slope, Broadway is bouncing back with the revitalization of its historic buildings and theaters and new businesses opening up. Our Streetscape Master Plan represents a big part of that change – Broadway is once again becoming one of Downtown’s premier destinations.”
Phase One of the plan features a “road diet” where Broadway from 3rd Street to just past 11th Street was reconfigured from four lanes to three, reclaiming more sidewalk space for pedestrians and allowing 24-hour parking and loading, which did not previously exist. The new pedestrian area has been resurfaced with decomposed granite. The Broadway Streetscape Dress Rehearsal will be in place, reviewed periodically for necessary revisions. Phase II of the plan will replace the granite surface on a block-by-block basis with extended sidewalks as new construction projects are approved and/or public funding becomes available.
LADOT was tasked with implementing the plan over the last six months – coordinating with the various agencies and departments involved. The project illustrates the evolution of the department previously known as the Department of Traffic, into a mobility-focused department whose aim is to maximize the city’s 7,500 miles of roadway – increasingly that involves expanding the City’s multi-modal options, including pedestrian and bike access.
The pilot represents the first implementation by LADOT of leading pedestrian interval signal timing, also known as “pedestrian head start” that programs the pedestrian walk signal to be lit several seconds before drivers receive a green signal. This means pedestrians have an opportunity to be well into the crosswalk before vehicles begin moving, which increases pedestrian visibility and safety.
“Our Department is committed to providing Angelenos and visitors with transportation choices that support a high quality of life,” said Seleta J. Reynolds, General Manager LADOT. “Whether you are walking, biking, driving or using transit in the City, we aim to provide an inviting, well-organized street. We are excited to provide people along Broadway with options for safe, enjoyable transportation that supports local businesses and the neighborhood.”
Metro was also a collaborating agency and used the dress rehearsal as an opportunity to consolidate bus stops and better utilize streets throughout the historic core. Metro Lines 30, 40, and 330 shifted from southbound Broadway to southbound Spring Street, one block east of Broadway. Lines 45 and 745 (known as the Broadway Bus) remain in place stopping southbound every other block. Metro bus lines serving northbound Broadway remain.
LADOT Project Manager Lan Nguyen was responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the project, and addressing challenges faced by the first-of-its-kind project that installed 49,300 square feet of decomposed granite, 254 planters, 191,250 lbs. of soil , 5,500 plants, 30 tables and umbrellas and 90 chairs.
As part of the plan, the new public outdoor seating areas, featuring tables, chairs and umbrellas, have been “adopted” by Broadway businesses, including the historic Grand Central Market, one of the oldest open-air markets in the country and recently named by Bon Appetit Magazine as one of the top 10 places to eat in America. The businesses will be responsible for daily placement and management of the seating sets.
“I have seen the transformation taking place along Broadway, and as Broadway thrives Grand Central Market thrives,” said Adele Yellin, owner of Grand Central Market, which is participating in the adoption seating program. “We’re pleased our market patrons will be able to enjoy the new plaza spaces. This plan adds another dimension to the experience of coming to the market, and allows people to experience historic Broadway in a new way.
The Broadway Streetscape Dress Rehearsal will provide greater pedestrian comfort and security along one of the city's busiest pedestrian streets, and make Broadway a more enjoyable place to walk, shop, and spend time, while supporting economic development along the corridor.
The Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, designed by Melendrez Design Partners, has won local and statewide planning awards for its innovation. The Broadway Streetscape Master Plan won the Plan Implementation Award of Merit from the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA), and then went on to win the 2014 Award of Merit for Urban Design from APA’s California Chapter.
These prestigious awards recognize the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan for its efforts to create a unique sense of place in the Broadway Theatre and Commercial District, a national register historic district, and for its innovative approach to the expansion of public spaces.
“This is one of the first large-scale examples of a truly forward-thinking and innovative streetscape project in California,” said Melani Smith of Melendrez Design Partners, who led the design effort. “Councilmember Huizar’s leadership was instrumental, and I believe this project will reap the same kinds of multi-level benefits for Broadway that similar projects in other cities have achieved. It’s an excellent example of urban planning supporting revitalization, and the Dress Rehearsal approach will ensure we get the opportunity to test things out and get things right before tens of millions of dollars in concrete is installed.”
Elsewhere, similar plans have had positive impacts on area economic development as well as pedestrian experience. According to a New York City DOT report, a similar semi-permanent pedestrian enhancement project in Union Square North resulted in a 16% decrease in speeding and injury crashes fell by 26%. The area experienced 49% fewer commercial vacancies, and, once implemented, 74% of users preferred the new configuration. The same report indicates that in areas where a curb lane was turned into a pedestrian/seating area, the location saw a 172% increase in retail sales, compared to 18% borough-wide.
The City of Los Angeles is handling maintenance of the new plaza areas for at least the first year, as materials are field-tested and plan modifications are made, after which the area’s business improvement districts may be contracted and compensated to take on this role.
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