Making a scenic route
Los Angeles recently completed the largest street improvement project in its history with the rehabilitation of Santa Monica Boulevard. The project combined two roads into one and removed an abandoned railroad to reduce congestion and travel times, and improve the road’s appearance.
Conceived of 25 years ago, the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway Project (SMBTPP) encompassed 2.5 miles between the 405 Freeway and Beverly Hills in West Los Angeles. The road is a heavily traveled corridor, carrying 35,000 cars daily into Century City, one of Los Angeles’ most prominent business communities, and Beverly Hills, home to world-renowned Rodeo Drive.
“Big” and “Little” Santa Monica Boulevards were extremely close in proximity, separated only by an abandoned railroad right-of-way, which caused congestion and lengthy delays at intersections with crossroads. To solve those problems, city engineers designed a new boulevard with three eastbound and three westbound travel lanes, and double left-hand turn lanes at five major intersections. They also called for dedicated bus lanes, bicycle lanes, neighborhood access roads on the north and south sides, new street lighting and traffic signal systems.
The city contracted with Long Beach, Calif.-based Excel Paving to begin construction in March 2003. That same year, the project faced one of southern California’s rainiest seasons during critical underground utility work. Crews also needed to maintain traffic flow while constructing the new boulevard, so multiple phases were implemented, and the public works department launched a wide-ranging community outreach program centered on advance notification of construction activities.
To celebrate the road’s historic significance as a portion of Route 66 — the famous route between Chicago and Los Angeles — more than 25 cast-aluminum icons representing famous people and places most frequently associated with Route 66 are mounted onto streetlight poles adjacent to the roadway. The completed boulevard opened in November, and landscaping work, including the installation of 800 new trees and an array of shrubs and plants, will continue through July.
Tonya Durrell, principal public relations representative, Los Angeles Department of Public Works
Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway
Department of Public Works Bureaus of Street Services, Street Lighting, Contract Administration and Engineering; Landscaping Division; L.A. Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Long Beach, Calif.-based Excel Paving