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Northeast Los Angeles Placemaking Competition: Fig/26 Intersection Pilot


Project submitted by Joshua Link

Project designed for Cypress Park

Project Summary and Scale

The Fig/26 River Intersection Pilot Project is a proposal to enhance the existing intersection at Figueroa Street and Avenue 26 to create a safer environment for pedestrians, to soften an otherwise bleak urban setting and to establish a community identity that is connected to the River.

Why are you committed to this project?

I occasionally ride the Gold Line to attend meetings and events at the L.A. River Center. While walking from the train station, I am struck by the inhospitable pedestrian conditions and the inconvenient three-way crossing at Figueroa. I sympathize with those who must traverse the intersection on a regular basis.

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

The intersection at Fig/26 is surrounded by gas stations on every corner. There are broad expanses of asphalt and significant impacts from traffic that significantly degrade the pedestrian experience. If a pedestrian would like to cross Figueroa while walking along the south side of Avenue 26, they are currently prohibited from doing so directly and must utilize the other adjoining crosswalks and wait for three separate lights to reach the other side of the street.

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

The proposed streetscape enhancements will immediately shift the Fig/26 intersection from being dominated by automobile traffic to more equitably serving the needs of pedestrians and transit riders. Large corner signs will be relocated to accommodate new shrubs and trees that will provide shade and sequester carbon in a location plagued by the heat-island effect and pervasive exhaust. The proposed crosswalk pattern and iconic heron sculptures reconnect the site to its roots as the confluence of two regional waterways and the birthplace of a sprawling metropolis. This project will transform both the physical characteristics and the neighborhood perception of the intersection.


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

The project will require lane closures for the installation of the new crosswalks. According to the manufacturer, crosswalk installation requires ninety minutes per lane and includes specialized equipment to be handled by an accredited installer. Ideally, where possible, construction of the corner landscape areas will include the relocation of gas station signage and the installation of a new planter area curb (if necessary) in addition to the installation of plant material. Iconic heron sculptures will require the installation of a concrete footing but can otherwise be fabricated off-site.

What is a rough estimate of your project budget?

Estimated total project cost of $75,000. Crosswalk installation expected to cost approximately $60,000 including the development of the custom thermoplastic template. Corner landscape areas range from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the planter area size and extent of site preparation required. Iconic sculptures have been estimated at $2,500 each.

How does this project leverage existing resources and efforts?

The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services is an accredited installer of the recommended crosswalk product. Similar custom crosswalks have already been installed in communities throughout the city such as Chinatown and Koreatown. Although the Fig/26 River Intersection is identified as a pilot project, other River Intersections can be immediately installed throughout the NELA riverfront area if and when funds become available. While the proposed landscape areas surrounding the Fig/26 River Intersection do not function as stormwater capture facilities due to adjacent land uses, such green infrastructure is highly recommended at feasible locations near other River Intersections. Pilot projects such as the Oros and Riverdale Green Street projects in Elysian Valley have set an example for the broad scale implementation of green infrastructure. The proposed iconic heron sculpture utilizes the same graphic representation found on existing river signs and extends the continuity of an already established graphic identity.

What community need is your project serving?

The Fig/26 River Intersection will improve conditions for local pedestrians and transit riders by making crossings safer and more convenient. The project also addresses community health on a number of levels by encouraging walking, exercise and the use of public transit and by providing green spaces that will improve local air quality, provide shade and reduce stress caused by the bombardment of noise, exhaust and advertisements found in this harsh urban environment. The project has significant educational potential and will hopefully inspire awareness within the community of our profound connection to the River.

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

A successful River Intersection means more people walking, more people taking public transportation, and less people suffering injuries as a result of traffic accidents. It also means that more people may notice birds flying over their head to roost in nearby trees, maybe even a heron? Perhaps the intersection will prompt somebody to walk to the River for the first time? Success means that you know when you are in the NELA riverfront area because you are standing in one of many River Intersections.

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