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Thanks to funds contributed by the developer of the Wilshire Grand Center, improvements are coming to a stretch of Seventh Street between Figueroa and Olive Streets, as well as to the bridges which carry Wilshire Boulevard and Seventh Street above the Harbor Freeway.

At a community meeting last night, Melanie Smith of landscape architecture firm Melendrez presented a preferred bundle of streetscape enhancements which would improve the look, feel and functionality of Seventh Street.  The proposed upgrades would make Seventh Street more hospitable to pedestrian, cyclists and transit users.
 
These improvements will include:
 
  • A new scramble crossing at the intersection of Seventh and Figueroa Streets, stopping all automobile traffic to allow pedestrians to cross in any direction at once. Three other intersections will receive the now standard “zebra,” crosswalk markings.
     
  • Four blocks of protected bike lanes.  Planters will be used to create the protective buffer between the bicycle lane and automobile traffic.
     
  • Raised transit platforms and bus shelters between curbside bus lanes and and automobile lanes, offering transit patrons a waiting area away from sidewalk traffic.
     
  • Sidewalk “bulbouts” at various points, calming traffic and shortening pedestrian crossing distance
     
  • A strip of “flex space” (the blue painted area in the rendering) between the bike lanes and sidewalks.  This space could be utilized for a variety of future uses, including bike corrals, parklets and outdoor dining.
     
  • Street trees spaced at a more consistent intervals and replaced where needed.  The species of replacement tree used will most likely be Brisbane Box, Australian Willow, or California Bay.  Tree boxes will also be enlarged to better accommodate landscaping.
     
  • New pedestrian lighting, spaced out at more regular intervals than current conditions.
     
  • New wayfinding signage and new light pole banners, utilizing a consistent branding and color scheme which plays off the architectural motifs of buildings on Seventh Street.
While these improvements will go a long way towards improving Seventh Street, they stop short of full reconstruction of the existing patchwork of sidewalks - something that definitely still needed but which also probably far exceeds the $9.175 million budget of this project.
 
In addition to the above improvements, pedestrian enhancements are also being considered for the Seventh Street and Wilshire Boulevard bridges over the Harbor Freeway.  Potential upgrades include taller fences and additional pedestrian lighting, which could be integrated into handrails.  Smith also discussed the possibility of adding an “identity element,” to these bridges, in the form of a “Downtown Los Angeles” sign spanning across the freeway.  If implemented, this element could be incorporated into the the fence itself, creating letters through the usage of varying fence textures.
 
At the very least, these improvements should make the harrowing experience of walking between the Financial District and City West a slightly more pleasant experience.
 
Construction of the project is scheduled to begin in the winter of 2016 and conclude in the spring of 2017 to coincide with the completion of the Wilshire Grand.

You can view slides from the presentation here.

 

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