How Do You Taint A Block Party? Lobby For A Freeway!

"Close the Gap" shirts ran for $5 each at Alhambra's block party in support of the I-710 freeway expansion from Alhambra to Pasadena. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog

For most people who live in Alhambra, the pedestrian is a second rate participant on the city’s roads. Car dealerships line Main Street in the north, wide four lane streets run along Valley.

So, to see Alhambra close one of the busiest north-south arteries in the city from 11 am to 2 pm on a Wednesday was beyond surprising. Alhambra’s “Close the Gap” event blocked Fremont Avenue from Valley Boulevard to Mission Road from 11 am to 2 pm. Wednesday to automobile traffic as a way to promote the Interstate 710 expansion project.

Alhambra hasn’t closed a street since the annual Jubilee ended a few years ago, but that event happened on a minor side street off Main Street that doesn’t get nearly as much foot or car traffic.

Art Beanda, 46-year-old Alhambra resident, sat with his two children in front of the apartment complex off Fremont Avenue.   After four years at the apartment complex, the block party gave Beanda his first chance to meet his neighbors.

“You see them and I mean, this guy lives here and you just say hi, but from far away,” Beanda said.

While the block party is a great direction Alhambra is headed for pedestrian activities, the association to the highway project felt odd. It’s great to see Alhambra close off a street for a recreational activity, but I’ve never heard of a pedestrian friendly event lobbying for a highway project. One step forward for Alhambra pedestrians felt like a step back by lobbying for the highway project.

Whether or not the 710 project goes through or not, will Alhambra continue to use July 10 (7/10) to promote the existence or non-existence of the expansion? Probably not.

Hopefully it’s not the last block party in Alhambra, but it would be best to move this ped-friendly activity back to, you know, promoting livable streets.

Three-year-old Anneliese Diep rocks a Close The Gap balloon. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
A children's take on the I-710 expansion project includes open roads with no pedestrians. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
Participants relax near the front of residences on Fremont Boulevard. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
Carnaval games get the cars treatment. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
Drive, a Cars cover band, plays to a crowd of one nearing the end of the event. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
The 710 expansion makes families happy. I'd love to see Streetsblog editor's children's take on the project. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog

And, here’s a treat from Lauren Gold on Alhambra’s amazing civic pride.

And a recap:


Kris Fortin was born and raised in Alhambra.

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Neighborhood leaders, city staff, and Councilmember Huizar breaking ground on Alhambra Avenue safety improvements. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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