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Central Avenue Getting Great Streets Treatment

Posted by Naomi Iwasaki, Mobility Policy Analyst on May 25th, 2015
Photo credit: dfwu2 user: pwright1

A corridor with both great historical significance and current relevance that connects Little Tokyo near Downtown Los Angeles through South Los Angeles, Watts and Willowbrook with the city of Carson, Central Avenue is scheduled to see the first of its Great Street treatments later this year. The street boasts many historical landmarks and monuments that harken back to the early- and mid-20th century when Central Avenue in South Los Angeles was known as the city’s paramount jazz epicenter and heart of the Los Angeles black community, including the Dunbar Hotel, Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building  and the now-closed Lincoln Theater. Today, the backbone of Historic South Central remains a bustling, thriving corridor with many local businesses, schools, residents and the home of the annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival.

The Mayor’s Office and Council District 9 selected Central Avenue as one of the City’s first Great Streets under Mayor Garcetti’s first initiative in office. Central Avenue already manages throngs of pedestrians going about their daily lives and has some of the higher pedestrian collision rates in the city. Therefore, the emphasis of these Great Streets projects will be on pedestrian improvements.

Starting as early as fall 2015, Central Avenue between Washington Blvd and Slauson Avenue will see interim treatments to extend the sidewalks by at least five feet. This will give more space for not only people who are walking but also for establishments who would like to improve the quality of life by adding street furniture such as seating, tables, or public art. To accommodate this sidewalk expansion, the street will undergo a “road diet”, which translates to replacing one travel lane with a left-turn only lane for each direction. Studies have shown safety improvements associated with road diets, particularly for rear-end vehicle crashes and pedestrian injuries.

In coordination with the road diet, a pedestrian “way finding” signage project from Los Angeles Walks, the city’s pedestrian advocacy organization, will display multi-lingual signs directing pedestrians to destinations or landmarks based on how many minutes it will take to walk. The signs will be permanent materials, similar to the aluminum of parking regulation signs, and destinations and sign locations are currently being determined by a multi-pronged community outreach process with Community Health Councils, TRUST South LA and the National Health Foundation.  


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