Lanes of Atlantic Avenue being used for outdoor dining will soon reopen for traffic

A street project that closed a lane of Atlantic Avenue in each direction through Bixby Knolls is getting kicked to the curb roughly six months after it was first installed.

Late last year, city planners placed protective barriers and redesigned street parking on Atlantic Avenue between East Claiborne Drive and East Armando Drive so businesses could use sidewalk space as outdoor dining areas. This reduced the street from two lanes in each direction to one.

But a social post from the Public Works Department on Friday said crews will be restoring Atlantic Avenue to its original form starting the week of May 24. Work will take up to two days.

The post did not explain why the city decided to reverse the changes, and officials weren’t immediately available to answer questions. However, the plan was never intended to be permanent. The city let the public know during virtual meetings last year that based on public feedback, traffic engineers would alter the design.

Councilman Al Austin, who represents the area, said the city reassessed the Atlantic Avenue project after less restrictive coronavirus rules went into effect, allowing things like indoor dining. Neighbors have also blamed the lane closures on Atlantic Avenue for causing more traffic on other nearby streets.

“This pilot project gave our businesses extended outdoor dining options as a response to indoor dining and capacity restrictions,” Austin said. “The Atlantic Open Streets Project was always a temporary project, and based on evaluations and community feedback we will be ending the project the week of May 24. We will continue to look at ways to calm traffic and support businesses during this time.”

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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