Northeast Los Angeles Placemaking Competition: Riverside Drive and San Fernando Road Improvements

Project submitted by ERW Design

Project designed for entire NELA area


Project Summary and Scale

Improvements to Riverside Drive (Glendale Boulevard to Oros Street), and San Fernando Road (Figueroa Street to 2 Freeway) include planted medians, storm water collectors, and improved signage, signifying the NELA River District. Flanking the river to the east and west, and traversing all the NELA communities, these roadways are transformed into green gateways corridors of the NELA District.


Why are you committed to this project?

This project improves two major street corridors in the NELA District: Riverside Drive and San Fernando Road. Re-designed 'green streets' will ease the storm water burden on the LA River. With climate-appropriate trees and shrubs, these streets are transformed into beautiful boulevards, enhancing existing habitat value of the river corridor.


What are the most relevant characteristics of project site and scale?

Riverside Drive on the west side of the river and San Fernando Road, on the east side, are major corridors connecting the NELA communities. The concrete streets currently present more 'blight' than beauty. Their large widths make them suitable candidates for modification, and once they are transformed into 'green streets' to capture storm water, with new plantings, signage and bike lanes, they will become handsome and neighborhood-proud boulevards.



Describe how this project will reinforce a sense of place or enhance the built environment.

Tree plantings and a raised center median radically improve the experience of Riverside Drive and San Fernando Road. As the two most used streets in the NELA District, their transformation will now mark these roads as NELA District thoroughfares. The green corridors create buffers between zones of activity and re-establish the natural hierarchy between noisy freeway entrances and quieter neighborhood streets, leading to river access and parks.


Provide a description of the project's necessary planning activities.

In order to address the storm water retention appropriately, a thorough site analysis involving storm water runoff calculations of the street's watershed will be necessary. Knowing how much water runoff that is created in these areas during a standard storm event will inform the design in terms of sizing the retention areas. The design should also address the resulting overflow when a larger storm event occurs.


What is a rough estimate of your project budget?

Based on similar project budgets, the green street improvement budget is estimated to be $500,000-$700,000 per city block


How does this project leverage existing resources and efforts?

The City of Los Angeles has already implemented several green street projects, some of which are adjacent to the L.A. River. The City has expressed interest in continuing to support these and similar types of projects (http://www.san.lacity.org/wpd/e-news/oros.htm).


What community need is your project serving?

The proposed Green Street Project address the community's need for improved personal, environmental and economic health in several ways. The multi-modal transportation aspects (e.g. bikes) can help reduce automobile traffic, noise and air pollution, while the storm water retention improves water resource quality. Creating a more pedestrian friendly street with landscape planting, encourages people to walk/exercise, also leading to the potential for improved neighborhood business and social opportunities.


If your project is realized, what does success look like?

This project will be successful when these shady boulevards create a pride of place to the NELA communities. This project will be successful when storm water levels in the L.A. River are reduced. This project will be successful when bicyclists have a safe route throughout the NELA District. This project will be successful when NELA is recognized as the river district. This project will be successful when businesses say "I want my company here."


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