Source: LA Streets Blog - In the 1950's, the 101 Freeway was built through downtown Los Angeles, cutting off the city's historic plaza, Union Station and Chinatown from the rest of the downtown civic center. This week, Angelenos have a chance to learn more about an ambitious plan that could restore much of the fabric of downtown, improve walking and bicycling connections, and add parkland to the L.A.'s park-poor core. It involves creating a lid above the below-grade freeway; atop the lid sits Park 101.
Interested folks can see Park 101 project plans, ask questions, and give input at a meeting preceding the monthly downtown Art Walk this Thursday. It [took place yesterday] between 4 and 6 P.M. at Caltrans Headquarters, at 200 S. Main Street
There are quite a few places where highway lids have been used to create park space. Successful examples include Memorial Park in La Canada and Freeway Park in Seattle. The lid idea is being explored for lots of locations in Southern California, including:
*Over the 101 Freeway from just west of Vermont Avenue to nearly Virgil Avenue - approved in the city's Station Neighborhood Area Plan
*Over the 5 Freeway near the Lincoln/Cypress Metro Gold Line Station - shown in Metro's and Livable Places' Making the Connections study.
*Hollywood Central Park over the 101 Freeway from just west of Hollywood Blvd to Santa Monica Blvd
*Over the 10 Freeway from 14th to 17th Street in Santa Monica
Park 101 is proposed over the 101 Freeway through downtown Los Angeles, extending from around Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral (near Grand Avenue) to the Los Angeles River (near Alameda Street.) The project would extend about one mile, entail roughly 100 acres, and cost about 800 million dollars. Project specifics and images are available at the Downtown News, LAist, Curbed, and at Caltrans' Park101 page.
There's a clear need to bridge the massive barriers that L.A.'s freeways present. This is especially true for downtown Los Angeles, given the density of population and availability of transit. Park 101's initial phase would strengthen walking connections to transit-hub Union Station, by lidding the block between Los Angeles Street and Main Street. Park 101 proponents propose that portions of the project can dovetail with High Speed Rail planned to connect with Union Station.
As civilized as Park 101 feels, the project does face a number of hurdles, not the least of which is its estimated $800M price tag. The site is surrounded by institutional and governmental uses that have turned their backs on the freeway. These government buildings, generally empty outside of weekday workdays, don't really generate the needed "eyes on the park" and park usage that can be critical for success. Additonally, even with the freeway covered, there are still numerous street crossings to bridge to arrive at a coherent park corridor. None of these issues are insurmountable, but they will take careful planning and plenty of funding.