The safest, best-designed streets Los Angeles has ever seen—including the city's first protected bike lanes—are coming to downtown, thanks to the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project (or, for short, MyFigueroa). With over $30 million from a state grant managed by the Community Redevelopment Agency, the project will fund infrastructural improvements that make the experience better for walkers, bikers, and transit-riders over a three-mile stretch of Figueroa Street. These type of streetscape projects, called "livable" or "complete" streets, are long overdue for Los Angeles, says CRA/LA Figueroa Corridor consultant Deborah Murphy. "They've been doing this stuff all over the world for the last 20 years," she says. "We're the last kids to get with the program."
The project itself was awarded in 2008 as part of a proposition that hoped to improve infrastructure near affordable housing projects, several of which are located close to Figueroa. But the area is also home to come of the city's biggest entertainment draws, like Staples Center and the Convention Center, as well as the large student population of USC. These improvements will be able to make commuting more comfortable for the city's most transit-dependent residents and also help build better parks and public space for tourists, students, and sports fans.
Last week, the project held community workshops where local residents could comment on the proposals, which were largely positive. Some complaints came from people who were worried about parking and that putting streets on a "road diet" would create increased traffic. (Murphy says that the amount of existing, off-street parking will not be changed and that traffic studies have ensured that downtown arteries won't get clogged.) Click through the slideshow of some visuals of what L.A.'s streets might look like in the near future, from the project team of Troller Mayer Associates, Melendrez, and Gehl Architects. To chime in, or to get more information, head to MyFigueroa to learn about upcoming events, or join their Facebook page. What do you think about L.A.'s street makeover?