DTLA’s 7th Street Will Get a Portland-Style Makeover

Down in the South Bay, there are plans to make Western Avenue less ugly and more people-friendly. On the other end of the county, in the heart of downtown L.A., 7th Street is preparing for a similar upgrade.

While the stretch of 7th through the Financial District is far from hideous, there’s a feeling it could be more accommodating to the growing crowds of pedestrians and cyclists; there may also be a streetcar running down it in a few years. The money for the $9 million effort comes from Korean Air, which is building the Western U.S.’s tallest skyscraper at the corner of 7th and Figueroa.

First conceived last year, the 7th Street Improvement Project has now been winnowed down to three options, reports Brigham Yen. All options encompass 7th from the western edge of the 110 freeway overpass bridge to Olive Street (about seven blocks). The most modest plan would extend the sidewalk at corners—so it’s easier to cross the street—as well as add platforms for the streetcar, maintain bike lanes, and add trees, lights, signage, and street furniture. That plan would also include “zebra” crosswalks, which allow pedestrians to cross in any direction, including diagonal, when they have the walk light.

Other options would extend the entire length of the sidewalks and have protected bike lanes physically separated from traffic.Two westbound lanes would be maintained for cars, and one eastbound lane for motorists that they share with the streetcar.

After area stakeholders decide which option to go with (see images), officials hope to start construction in the fall of 2016. This sounds great, but what about extending the very short barriers on the pedestrian bridge over the 110? One heel break and things could get ugly.

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