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Freeway Drivers Keep Slamming into Bridge Railing in Griffith Park

Drivers keep smashing the Riverside Drive Bridge railing - plus a few other Griffith Park bike/walk updates

Riverside Drive Bridge crash barrier this week. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

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Today's post concerns a sad stretch of bridge railing that just can't catch a break.

Lately the Norwalk terminus of the 105 Freeway has gotten some well-deserved press attention; drivers exiting the freeway keep slamming into a medical building there. This week Caltrans is adding lighting, signage, rumble strips, pavement markings, etc. to try to stem the tide of crashes.

But don't forget about other Southern California freeway exit ramp crash hot spots, including in Griffith Park.

There are two freeways through Griffith Park, with about twenty on- and off-ramps within the park. Along the park's north edge, next to the L.A. River bike/walk path, lies the Victory Boulevard off-ramp from the eastbound 134 Freeway. The ramp facilitates drivers cutting through Griffith Park to get to destinations in adjacent Glendale and Burbank.

Victory/Riverside crash location - base aerial via Google Street View

Drivers have a thousand-foot-long off-ramp to slow down before arriving at the stop-sign-controlled intersection at Riverside Drive, next to Zoo Drive.

But some drivers continue straight through the intersection and collide into the bridge railing there. Google street view images over the years show temporary concrete barriers - placed on the narrow sidewalk - evolving into semi-permanent fixtures.

Riverside Drive Bridge crash barrier in 2014 - via Google
Riverside Drive Bridge crash barrier in 2017 - via Google
Riverside Drive Bridge crash barrier in 2021
Riverside Drive Bridge crash barrier in 2022 - via Google

After a car crash, these concrete barriers sometimes get repositioned and block much of the sidewalk, making it difficult for pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair users to pass.

To enter Griffith Park, this cyclist (on the sidewalk to avoid freeway ramp traffic) has to navigate past barricades placed after a car crash. 2021 photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

Two months ago, a driver managed to up the ante there. Instead of just crashing dead-ahead, the driver partially completed a left turn, then crashed through the railing. The car fell onto the freeway below, and its two occupants scrambled free before the car erupted in flames.

Now there are two temporary barriers erected there to supplant the demolished railing.

In the middle of the freeway, there are extended barriers on the Riverside Drive Bridge where a driver crashed in March. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
On the same Riverside Drive Bridge over the 134, this jerry-rigged crash barrier has been in place for a decade in the spot where drivers keep crashing. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

Should people care about a pattern of inattentive drivers repeatedly damaging a bridge? Perhaps not for the bridge's sake. But this location is one of the main access points where cyclists enter Griffith Park (and where the city and Caltrans failed to install approved bike lanes). It's also nearly on top of an equestrian trail. The next crash could be the one that takes somebody's life - likely someone on bike, foot, or horseback.

At a minimum, this spot deserves some safety interventions similar to what is underway in Norwalk.

Improvements should include moving the longstanding crash barrier to where it doesn't just replace a bridge railing, but protects pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians - instead of impeding a sidewalk. Even better: this off-ramp probably should be permanently closed. That was included in some earlier SBLA recommendations for this area.

Here are a few other non-grim Griffith Park news bites:

Cyclist entry point to car-free Griffith Park Drive. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
Green pavement shows cyclist access on Griffith Park Drive. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
Recently repaired L.A. River bike/walk path along Griffith Park. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ForestLawnMapLADOT.jpg
LADOT map of Forest Lawn Drive safety improvements
  • The city is planning to resurface Forest Lawn Drive and add protected bike lanes. In mid-2023, the subject-to-change project timeline had anticipated a Spring 2024 opening. Today, LADOT spokesperson Colin Sweeney noted that "the design is still being finalized" with no implementation timeline available.
  • Streets Are For Everyone reports that, thanks to Assemblymember Laura Friedman, $4 million worth of Griffith Park safety improvements are coming soon. Improvements will include a road diet with new bike lanes on Crystal Springs Drive (near the main Visitor Center), pavement rehabilitation, new zebra crosswalks, traffic calming, and more.

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