This diagram is one of several on display at a media event on Tuesday, May 10, where plans were announced to establish a park on the current site of five lanes of traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets. The city proposes to use two different grants to accomplish the elimination of all five lanes.

UPDATE 4:37pm | Councilman Robert Garcia said Thursday afternoon that it is the city’s full intention to eliminate all five lanes of traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets to make way for Armory Park, regardless of what is stated in the application for a grant the city was awarded to fund traffic safety improvements at the intersection of MLK and Seventh.

“Our plan is to take all of them (the five traffic lanes) out,” Garcia told the Post.

The grant application the city submitted to CalTrans in December 2010 to obtain the traffic safety funds states that while the city studied the removal of all five lanes, it plans to remove the two southbound lanes and middle, left-hand turn lane, preserving the two northbound traffic lanes. These would be transformed into right-turn-only lanes, according to a local news website that obtained a copy of the application.

Garcia emphasized that the two northbound lanes would also be removed so long as the city receives the full amount for which it is applying through the Proposition 84 Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization grant program. The traffic safety grant will fund the removal of three of the five lanes, while the Prop. 84 grant would fund the removal of the other two.

The Parks and Recreation Commission was putting the final touches on the Prop. 84 grant application for Armory Park earlier this week and should be submitting it shortly if it has not done so already.

While he is not sure of the exact wording in the traffic safety grant application, Garcia said that grant “offers the flexibility” for all five lanes to be removed if the city does, in fact, receive the full amount of the Prop. 84 grant.

Brian Ulazsewski, an architect with a private local firm who has championed the Armory Park idea for nearly the last decade, said there’s flexibility because the traffic safety funds were granted in order to reduce the likelihood for injury traffic accidents to occur at the intersection, and going a step further and removing the two northbound lanes with Prop. 84 funds would make the intersection even safer.

Editor’s note: Brian Ulazsewski is a Long Beach Post staff writer.

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2:01pm | Updated plans recently announced by the city about establishing a park on land that is currently home to five lanes of traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets appear to have been misleading.

Media representatives in attendance at a press event hosted by Councilman Robert Garcia on Tuesday were led to believe that all five lanes (two northbound, two southbound and a middle left-hand turning lane) of MLK between Sixth and Seventh would be removed to boost traffic safety and free up space for the proposed .84-acre Armory Park. 

According to a May 12 post on a local news website, however, the city only intends to remove three of the traffic lanes.
Garcia said Tuesday that plans for the park are moving forward following the city’s recent receipt of a $1 million Highway Safety Improvement Funds grant to make traffic-related improvements at the intersection of Seventh and MLK, which he and other city officials have cited as the city’s most dangerous.

While Garcia and two other speakers at Tuesday’s event never stated outright that all five lanes would be removed, diagrams of the proposed park clearly depict the elimination of all five lanes. 

A copy of the successful HSIF grant application obtained by the local news website reportedly states that “to reduce injury collisions the project proposes to eliminate through traffic on MLK Avenue between Seventh and Sixth streets by converting the roadway from a two-way to a one-way. South of Seventh Street MLK Avenue will be reduced from five lanes in two directions to only two northbound lanes. The northbound traffic will be channelized into two right-turn lanes at Seventh Street.”

The grant application goes on to state that the city had studied eliminating all five lanes, but that “in order to retain right-turn capacity, at this time, the city proposes only removing the southbound lanes,” according to the local news website.

The application reportedly makes a single mention of the city’s intention to leverage the HSIF grant funds to create new open space in a “park-poor, high-density area of downtown Long Beach.”

The city’s Parks and Rec Commission was Tuesday putting the final touches on a Proposition 84 grant application to secure funding for the proposed park.
It is unclear what the revelation pertaining to the traffic lanes means in terms of the proposed park, for which a series of five community design meetings will be held to gain community feedback.

Those meetings are set for:

  • May 16 at the Pacific Islander Ethnic Art Museum, 6:30 p.m.
  • May 18 at a Downtown Long Beach Associates board meeting, 8:30 a.m.
  • May 18 at an East Village Arts District meeting at Sipology, 7 p.m.
  • May 19 at a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting at the El Dorado Community Center, 9 a.m.
  • June 4 at a Craftsman Village Historic District barbecue at 851 Orange Ave., 11 a.m.

Stay tuned for updates as more information becomes available.