Immortalized by John Steinbeck as “The Mother Road,” the decommissioned Route 66, now known as Foothill Boulevard in East Los Angeles cities La Verne and Claremont, often draws nostalgic visions of America’s golden age of the automobiles. First established in 1926, Route 66’s creation marked the development of transcontinental highway systems in mid-century America.
As one might expect, much of Route 66’s bordering development in eastern Los Angeles County reflects the automobile-centric planning logic of a bygone era. Auto-centric strip malls, restaurants, and services still surround intimidatingly wide Foothill Boulevard and serve as a reminder that Southern California still has a ways to go to overcome its overwhelming dependence on automobiles.
However, a recently approved $9.7 million complete-street project proposal in Claremont challenges the car centered-design of Foothill Boulevard, the former Route 66.
Approved in October of 2015, Claremont’s Foothill Boulevard Improvement Project aims to improve the street’s accessibility, safety, and multi-modal additions with a complete-street approach to road planning.
Currently, Claremont’s section of Foothill Boulevard features dated Route 66 size proportions, including travel lane widths ranging from 17-23 feet. Typical surface street lanes would be 10-11 feet wide. Foothill’s unholy combination of over-sized lanes and absence of multi-modal transit features creates an intimidating atmosphere for pedestrians and cyclist. In addition to their impractical width, these Route-66 era lane widths, Claremont Senior Planner Chris Veirs noted, provoke faster driving speeds through speed creep and endanger all users of the road. In response, the Foothill Improvement Project calls for a series of “road dieting” measures and complete-street accommodations. Read more…