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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

How to tame a freeway - put a park on top

Kaid Benfield

Posted November 28, 2008

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the Hollywood Freeway (by: Cathy Cole, creative commons license)Over the last decade or two, cities have begun to reclaim their urban neighborhoods from freeways.  Boston buried its Central Artery in the Big Dig.  San Francisco tore down the earthquake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway and replaced it with a more hospitable boulevard.  And now there is an emerging plan in LA to build a platform of sorts over a significant stretch of the Hollywood Freeway and cover it with landscaping, creating a neighborhood-serving park in this notoriously nature-deprived metropolis.

Bob Pool writes in today's Los Angeles Times:

"Maybe they've just scratched the surface, those who want to cover over a mile-long section of the Hollywood Freeway and create a park on top.

"But a group promoting construction of an airy, meandering promenade for local Hollywood residents isn't certain what its effect might be on motorists down below traveling through a serpentine tunnel between Bronson Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

"A feasibility report years in the making concludes that the freeway-top park would cost $950 million in today's dollars. Construction could begin as early as 2012.

Christopher Columbus Park, built over Boston's Big Dig (by: Michael Romero, creative commons license)"The freeway conversion, backed by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles redevelopment officials and local politicians, would turn the top of the freeway into a 44-acre 'locals-first community park.' It would serve what advocates say is one of the city's most parks-poor areas.


"'It will be built,' advocate Don Scott promised Hollywood residents as the 92-page report detailing its preliminary design concept was released Wednesday night.

"A parade of local lawmakers declared their support for what backers call 'Hollywood Freeway Central Park,' which would be funded with a combination of state, local, federal and private dollars. A group of about 80 meeting at a newly built Hollywood high school adjacent to the freeway greeted the plans warmly . . ."

Intriguing, to say the least.  Go here for the full story.


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Dave ReidNov 28 2008 03:12 PM

Seattle has a great freeway park, that integrates with their Convention Center.

You can see some of the park in this flickr set

Here in Milwaukee I'd love to see this done to I43 which cuts the city in half right now.

Susan KraemerNov 29 2008 01:02 AM

I love that idea.

I used to roller skate up on New York City's gritty abandoned West Side Highway among weeds beginning to sprout - that's been demolished now though, I think.

Kaid @ NRDCDec 1 2008 09:27 AM

Great photos, Dave. If you don't object, I may use some of them. :)

Thanks again, Susan.

These freeway parks may be a good way to heal some of the community damage done, especially to underprivileged neighborhoods, back in the '60s and '70s.

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