Photos by Asia Morris.
On Tuesday, the City of Long Beach celebrated the completion of the first phase of the Atlantic Avenue Complete Streets Project, a major street rehabilitation initiative that included constructing cement concrete curbs, repairing existing medians, refurbishing and updating bus shelters, landscaping and installing concrete crosswalks.
Mayor Robert Garcia, Councilmember Rex Richardson and Director of the Uptown Business District Sean Duren, along with other city officials, dignitaries and those involved with and in support of the improvements, gathered at Houghton Park to celebrate and discuss the project’s completion.
"This project not only greatly enhances an important business corridor, it was completed on time and on budget,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “This is just one example of the great things happening in North Long Beach, and we can all be very proud of that work.”
According to the City of Long Beach, the project was originally planned to end where Atlantic Ave. becomes North Atlantic Place, however over the past decade, Atlantic Ave. has received improvements from the 405 up to the northern city limit, with only a few pockets still waiting for improvements.
Mayor Garcia spoke highly of the now-improved corridor on Tuesday, saying “This is what it’s all about, just having momentum and ensuring that all of our city, regardless of where it is, is seeing these kinds of infrastructure improvements—"
“Bullshit!” yelled an angry passenger out of his car window, interrupting Garcia and inciting the laughter of those in attendance, who, in fact, did not seem to feel the same way about the Atlantic Avenue Complete Streets Project, instead applauding the Mayor for his good-natured response to the drive-by verbal assault.
“—and so… He likes improvements as well,” Garcia said with a grin.
Councilmember Rex Richardson took the floor, saying, “I think the mayor said it best, in that today is really about momentum, momentum in North Long Beach, momentum in our City.”
The rehabilitation also included replacing and overlaying asphalt concrete pavement, furnishing and installing pavement markers, markings and traffic striping, while existing medians between 52nd and 56th St. and Harding St. were repaired and improved with new trees, landscaping and irrigation. A new raised median was also installed between Harding St. and Aloha Dr.
“We highlighted an amazing transformation, including a number of major improvements to Atlantic Avenue, clearly highlighting how our Uptown Renaissance is continuing to exceed expectations,” Richardson said in a statement. “The project has brought vitality to the area and has provided residents, motorists and pedestrians with a more inviting and stimulating environment.”
The resurfacing of the street used an asphalt containing up to 15 percent recycled material, including recycled rubber from an estimated 2,270 tires, according to the City. The old asphalt that was removed from the improvement project was recycled and used as base material for other street projects.
“So there’s a renaissance going on in North Long Beach," said Duren. "I don’t know if you guys have noticed, with the improvements that the councilman just spoke about, the business district is committed to maintaining these improvements… We want to make this district a clean and safe place to visit.”
Duren explained that in order to maintain the Atlantic Corridor, the hard work of the district’s Clean Team and security patrol, quarterly power washing of sidewalks and crosswalks, along with the installment of security cameras throughout the area, will give residents and businesses a sense an increased sense of pride due to the improvements.
"The improvements on the Atlantic Avenue corridor has energized many business properties and business owners," Duren said in a statement. "The corridor is clean, safe, and inviting."
The $3.2 million project was funded by Proposition C and from bond proceeds from the former Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, according to the City.
“I want to extend sincere thanks to Mayor Robert Garcia for attending today's ceremony and Public Works Director Ara Maloyan for making this project a reality,” said Richardson in a statement. “I also would like to thank former Councilmember Steven Neal for initiating this project during his tenure.”
"I am excited about the things that are happening Uptown," said Otis Hogan, a Houghton Park resident, in a statement. "We have a new Atlantic Avenue, and we will be getting a new Library soon. There are times that us North Long Beach residents feel that we are forgotten, but there are projects like these that reminds us that we are still connected."