Broadway, in Downtown Los Angeles, has a lot going for it. A commercial and cultural center, the street boasts twelve historic theater buildings within six blocks. Its Art Deco and Beaux Arts architecture is complemented by other distinctive elements, including Terrazzo paving and streetlight bases dating to the 1920s. But it also has problems. More often treated as a vehicular throughway than a destination, the street is lacking basic pedestrian safety infrastructure. Several recent accidents, including an incident in which a tow truck crashed into a Metro bus, killing the bus driver, underscored the area’s deficiencies.
A new initiative developed by LA Council-member José Huizar aims to transform Broadway into a multi-modal, pedestrian-friendly street. The Broadway Streetscape Master Plan (BSMP), one component of Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway revitalization program, was introduced in 2009 and finalized last February. Its first phase, a $1.2 million “dress rehearsal” that uses temporary materials, began on February 3.
The BSMP reconfigures ten blocks between First and Eleventh streets to create a more equitable balance between vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The roadway will be reduced from five travel lanes to three. Meanwhile, the entire west-side sidewalk will be extended by eight feet. On both sides of the street, bulb-outs at intersections and mid-block crosswalks will add an additional eight feet. The plan also calls for the installation of street trees and planters designed to filter storm water, plus street furniture, signage, and pedestrian-scale lighting based on historic fixtures.
LADOT is responsible for implementing the BSMP, while Councilmember Huizar’s office will continue to work with stakeholders and coordinate funding for permanent construction. “This is a unique opportunity for… a real partnership between [Business Improvement Districts], the council office, and our office,” said LADOT pedestrian coordinator Margot Ocañas.