Image courtesy of the City of Long Beach.
Prepare to encounter a new driving experience in Long Beach.
Effective November 22, Sixth and Seventh Streets will allow two-way traffic between Alamitos and Atlantic Avenues, part of a project the city has been working on since the summer, the city announced today.
A release issued by the city noted the opening of the street, to begin at 7:00AM, is a milestone for the city. While improving a dangerous intersection, it also builds a new park and marks the first time the city has converted one-way streets into two-way streets, a process known as “de-coupling.”
“This is a momentous occasion as we change one of the most dangerous intersections in the City to a thriving green space,” said Councilmember Lena Gonzalez, in a statement. “The street improvements will drastically improve pedestrian and motorist safety.”
In addition to the “de-coupling,” the city is slated to begin the construction of the one-acre Robert Gumbiner Park between Sixth and Seventh Streets, where Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue (MLK) once sat. Currently, the southern terminus of MLK ends at Seventh Street.
Expected to be completed at the end of 2016, the westbound lane of Sixth Street between Alamitos Avenue and Mars Court will be closed throughout the construction process, the city stated.
Gumbiner Park will add a host of new amenities to this portion of the city, including a performance area, children’s play areas, skate plaza, shade structures and other “gathering spaces.”
Another big win for the park are the sustainable design features that will be used throughout the phases of construction—including reuse of recycled pavement, natural stormwater retention and filtration system, large canopied trees and a new green space in a newly built-out area, according to the city.
The street will experience a bit of a facelift as well; street improvements are to range in scope from additional landscaping, improved drainage systems, new bus stops and new sidewalks that will meet disabled accessibility standards and allow a diverse array of residents to access the park’s recreational amenities.
The intersection improvement project is funded by a $900,000 grant awarded by the Highway Safety Improvement Program through Caltrans. The park is being funded by a $2.83 million award from the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program to develop the park.
The park’s namesake, Dr. Robert Gumbiner, founded the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in 1996, as well as the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, which opened in 2010, according to the release. He was known for spearheading his medical practice and cultivating its growth into one of the largest HMOs in the country, FHP International.
The City Council voted to name the park after Gumbiner, who died in 2009, in a January city council vote this year. Mayor Garcia sponsored the item.