Road work ramps up on massive overhaul of Broadway corridor in Long Beach

Photo by Brian Addison. Above: workers begin construction on Broadway at Falcon.

Over a year after the announcement that the Broadway Corridor between Junipero and Alamitos avenues would be receiving a massive and much-needed overhaul, work has formally begun as city crews work to build what will be an entirely new street.

The project, expected to run through at least October of this year, is a massive undertaking.

Much to the applause of urbanists and lovers of streets, the Broadway Corridor is the first and largest infrastructure project from Measure A funds, with improved and widened sidewalks, new pavement, increased public real estate at intersections, bike lanes, and a road reconfiguration that will slow down cars in what business owners and residents alike have described as a “speedway” for drivers desperate to connect to DTLB or access the 710 further west.

The project’s smaller aspects began earlier this year, with the additions of 121 new parking spaces along 1st and 2nd streets—up from the original 101 spots being proposed for the upgrade last year—as well as the tree removal along Broadway to create wider and safer sidewalks. However, the parking spots along Broadway will be removed and, according to city spokesman Kevin Lee, the additional spots that were created recently will “make the area parking neutral” when the project is complete.

I’ve been a longtime and outspoken advocate for a better Broadway—and not just because I wanted to see bike lanes. Complete streets aren’t just about siphoning off car access but rather examining the neighborhoods that their main streets run through. And in the case of Broadway, years after years of community meetings have led to these main concerns: calming down traffic, heightening bike connections, widening sidewalks, improving parking, adding better lighting, and providing facade improvements for buildings.

This probably explained why the neighborhood surrounding the Broadway Corridor voted for Measure A—the tax initiative that focused on generating safety and public infrastructure funds—by over 80 percent.

Representatives from the Public Works Department emphasized last year they are not solely focused on the Spandex-clad bike clubbers but rather the “eight-to-80 crowd” that uses their bike alone, walks to the park, invests in the neighborhoods, and uses the streets for more than driving.

“We studied Broadway as well as side streets so that we were assured that impacts would not impede other areas,” said Sean Crumby of Public Works at the announcement of the project. “In fact, we studied traffic and determined that no traffic impacts will be met by reducing Broadway to two lanes. So we can have a road diet without an impact; traffic will be removed from pedestrians and bicyclists while those driving won’t face an impact in their commute.”

The bike lanes are probably the biggest deal in terms of transit as it allows a much more efficient, safer connection between Long Beach east of Alamitos and west of it. Currently, bicyclists take 3rd and are met with the dangerous intersection of 3rd and Alamitos, where they have to weave through cars to get onto the DTLB protected lanes.

According to Crumby last year, the DTLB lanes are up for renovation and that bid is out to contractors to take on the job; they have yet to secure a contractor.

That renovation will center on how to best connect Broadway to DTLB. That could mean several situations. Perhaps they will push the westbound bike lane on Broadway through Alamitos and up Lime, connecting to 3rd with full protection (leaving eastbound Broadway bicyclists somehow having to maneuver to the south side of Broadway to get across Alamitos). Perhaps Broadway and 3rd will act as one-ways for bicyclists.

There are multiple possibilities that most likely won’t be seriously weighed until the improvements along Broadway are completed and we actually see how the street alters as well as how it is used.

Until then, expect minor delays in traffic—particularly in the morning and early evening commutes. Drivers are suggested to use 3rd, 4th, or Ocean as alternative arterials.

This article originally appeared on Longbeachize.

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