Downtown L.A.'s "Broadway Dress Rehearsal" project entered a new phase last month. SBLA readers will recall that the Broadway project was a relatively quick and low-cost creation of bulb-outs designed to calm traffic. The project removed space from cars, giving it to people dining and traveling on foot on one of L.A.'s highest pedestrian-volume streets. Broadway's Dress Rehearsal opened August 2014 and every day plenty of people use it, especially the tables and chairs there. Last fall, the city Transportation Department (LADOT) published a study showing baseline conditions on Broadway; this fall LADOT will be following up with comparison data on what has changed.
Initially the Dress Rehearsal bulb-out surface was, according to LADOT People St's Valerie Watson, an "epoxy-based aggregate mix" -- think tiny smooth rocks embedded in a thin layer of glue. Some merchants reported that some of the tiny stones were getting dislodged and tracked into stores.
The rocky surface has now been replaced by what looks more like a layer of yellow paint, though Watson calls it a "cement-based road surface coating." According to LADOT's resurfacing information sheet [PDF], on top of the yellow are a "Broadway Lights" art deco-inspired pattern. According to Watson, the new surface will be "more durable and easier to clean."
Some may be critical that the city has swapped out one new surface for another, within less than a year of the initial installation, but this is exactly the kind of knowledge that the city should get from low-cost pilot projects like this one. Better to learn which surfaces are easily maintained before installing those surfaces in multiple sites around the city.
Watson, eager to give credit where due, requested that SBLA pass along thanks to the city's project partners: Meléndrez, L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, Jessica Wethington McLean, the Historic Core BID, the Fashion District BID, and the Downtown Center BID.