Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Phantom Freeway through Beverly Hills

As you sit through the twice-daily traffic jams that characterize driving on the West Side of Los Angeles, you probably wonder how urban planners forgot to put any freeway through the giant expanse between the 10 Santa Monica Freeway across the center of the LA basin and the 101 Ventura Freeway which bisects the Valley.  The short answer is, it was never planned this way.

In the 1940s when the freeways and "parkways" of limited-access roads were laid out for the Los Angeles region, there was a planned California Route 2 Freeway that connected Glendale to the West Side via Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Westwood. Christened the Beverly Hills Freeway, the project remained on the books until it was blocked by the wealthy communities it would bisect, and eventually killed completely in the 1970s.  There are still traces of what would have been major intersections with the city's other freeways, such as the wide median of the 101 near Vermont Avenue where the Beverly Hills Freeway would have one of its major connections.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
KCET

Link to article:
Why Isn't There a Freeway to Beverly Hills?

Excerpt: "It's the missing link of L.A.'s freeway network: the 2, a direct connection between the Westside's 405 and Hollywood's 101. Known to planners as the Beverly Hills Freeway, this 9.3-mile cross-town superhighway would have relieved pressure on the 10 and provided local freeway access to West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Century City. It also would have torn through some of L.A.'s wealthiest residential districts -- a fact that ultimately relegated plans for the freeway to the trash bin.

When traffic planners first envisioned the freeway in the early 1940s, they sketched it with a broad stroke on the city's map, labeling it the 'Santa Monica Parkway' because it roughly followed the path of Santa Monica Boulevard. (Today's Santa Monica Freeway, completed in 1965, was born on the same map as the 'Olympic Parkway.') By the time planners plotted the planned highway's precise course in 1965, it had earned a new name -- the Beverly Hills Freeway -- as well as the wrath of local communities.

On planners' maps, the Beverly Hills Freeway began as an extension of the Glendale (CA-2) Freeway at a massive interchange with the Hollywood (US-101) Freeway near Vermont Avenue. (The 101's wide median still anticipates that canceled interchange.) From there, the planned freeway sliced between Melrose Avenue and Clinton Street, before jogging slightly to the north and cutting between Waring and Willoughby avenues.

In West Hollywood, it turned to the southwest and followed the path of Santa Monica Boulevard, plunging below grade into a submerged trench. In Beverly Hills, the city considered capping the freeway with parking and surface street lanes. West of Beverly Hills, it emerged from its trench and passed by Century City before finally dead-ending south of Westwood at the San Diego (I-405) freeway.

Documents preserved and digitized by the Metro Transportation Library and Archive, including these two reports from 1964, recall the planned route in detail.

It was a bold plan that drew a correspondingly strong backlash. Though some constituencies -- notably the businesses of Westwood Village, the developers of Century City, and much of Beverly Hills -- supported the freeway, many neighborhoods opposed it. West Hollywood homeowners were particularly vocal in their dissent. The grassroots opposition might have seemed futile -- Eastside neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, East L.A., and Lincoln Heights failed to stop seven freeways from bulldozing through their communities -- but wealthy residents here did not want for political influence."

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