Broadway Dress Rehearsal Project Gets New, More Durable Surface

New yellow makeover for Broadway Dress Rehearsal. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New yellow suface being installed on Broadway Dress Rehearsal bulb-outs last month. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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.

Installation of Broadway's epoxy-aggregate surface in 2014
Installation of Broadway’s epoxy-aggregate surface in 2014

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. 

Broadway's dress rehearsal durable easy to clean new surface this week. The LADOT orange markings in the foreground show where future inverted-U bike racks will be installed.
Broadway’s dress rehearsal durable easy to clean new surface this week. Note the LADOT orange markings in the foreground showing where future inverted-U bike racks will be installed.

The rocky surface has now been replaced by what looks more like a layer of yellow paint, though Watson calls it a “cement-based road surface coating.”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.

 

 

  • AJ

    I can’t help but wonder if this space could be better utilized by cycle track, bus lanes, or some more functional use than a handful of planters and parking spaces. The design provides a little new seating at a few bulbouts, and an overall traffic calming effect, but it otherwise hasn’t added usable sidewalk space that you can actually walk on.

  • Alex Brideau III

    I had a chance to walk on the new surface a couple weeks ago and like it much more than the previous dirt-like surface. I was wondering what those orange “LADOT” markings were. Glad the pic indicates they are locations of future bike racks. :-)

  • ubrayj02

    Broadway has some of the highest foot traffic counts and commercial ground floor rents in LA (from what I’ve heard, no data to back that up at hand). I think the idea was simply to mellow out the noise and danger and ring up retail sales, dining, and entertainment businesses along this corridor. There are a lot of knock-on effects from this, like making upper floor commercial space viable as hotels, apartments, condos, or office space again. That in turn either dials up the willingness of old land owners to sell or invest in their property. Selling is best for the city as a building sold at today’s value, and thus taxed at today’s value, is part of how all of this pays for itself long term.

    Making people linger, wander, talk, and sit is what the overarching idea is behind stuff like this. “Usable sidewalk space” can be found all over LA – it has little impact on retail survival above a certain minimum standard.

    I’m not speaking as an authority on the matter, so if you’ve got something to refute anything I said I am definitely all ears.

  • ExpoRider

    I agree that a cycle track would be a good idea for this space and it could be incorporated into the current design. I visited Broadway today to see what it looks like and I found that it was woefully underutilized for the stated purposes (pedestrians and seating). Between 5th and 8th I only saw one table with an umbrella (as in the photo above). Maybe it is better utilized in the evening. It looks like they recently installed the bike racks, which were all empty, but that may be because nobody knows that they are there yet.

  • Alex Vickers

    I work on Broadway and have seen this evolve day by day. I had a very similar thought, particularly because the only place this currently serves is the Grand Central Market. All the planters really get in the way of making this a functional place, but they also prevent drivers from entering the area.

    I know the eventual plan is to extend the sidewalk, but this is a stopgap until more funding is available. My 2 cents, this would be much better as a cycle track! I actually used it as such before all the planters were installed and it was great. There are certain areas that are just screaming to be cycle tracked, with car parking acting as a barrier. I’m all for pedestrian amenities, but the sidewalk on Broadway is already super wide why not add a cycle track?

  • AlecMitchell

    I saw them installing bike racks (standard LADOT U-racks) yesterday. So they are indeed very new.

  • Steven White

    I agree. While I’m generally for cycle track everywhere and would have loved to see it included here… I think the main idea is that this is very forward looking. As a “dress rehearsal” it will allow LADOT do see how the physical arrangement affects traffic, etc. Assuming all is well, it can be made permanent with curbs, raised sidewalk, etc.

    Once you have that, you don’t need the planters taking up all the space, or at least not planters that are quite as large. The ultimate goal is forward looking… Broadway already has tons of pedestrian traffic, but there is TONS of vacant retail and upper floor space, so we’re looking at something that will hopefully eventually accommodate much much more than the current levels.

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