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Seleta Reynolds Guest
Seleta Reynolds

Los Angeles Department of Transportation

General manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

FROM Seleta Reynolds

Design and Architecture

What will freeways look like in the future? Is the High Desert Corridor the last gasp for freeways? Or will they always be part of our lives? Seleta Reynolds heads LA’s Department of Transportation and says that as transportation changes -- with the advent of electric vehicles, driverless cars, and drone delivery -- we should change how we think about freeways and their costs. “If we don't figure out a way to optimize what we have, which is a huge massive capital maintenance burden, then I'm not sure I'd buy that freeways will be here in a hundred years, because we won't have the dollars to continue to invest in them and maintain them,” Reynolds said. She points to some projects that are re-envisioning the freeway structures, such as the Hollywood Park project to create a park and deck the freeway at the 101 in Hollywood. Another project would rework the stub of the 2 freeway in the Silver Lake and Echo Park area. Landscape architect Chris Reed worked with his students at Harvard on a concept to turn the spur of this unfinished freeway into an elevated park filled with plants, paths for cyclists and pedestrians, and a rainwater capture system. Stoss Landscape Urbanism's proposal for the 2 Freeway spur includes paths for pedestrians and bicyclists and a rain capture system. (Chris Reed / Stoss Landscape Urbanism) He says that in addition to separating communities and spewing pollutants, freeways also exacerbate storm water runoff. “It was an exciting speculation to say, look, let's just take a piece of infrastructure and turn it on its head and allow it to become this vibrant space for ecology, for culture, for people in ways that just aren't possible right now,” Reed said. But could interventions like this steer us away from freeways in the future? “It's hard to imagine L.A. without the automobile and without the freeways because L.A. is a 20th century city and the automobile is a 20th century invention,” said Eric Avila, author of “The Folklore of the Freeway.” “In so many ways the identity, the politics, the economics, the landscape, the environment of L.A. is based upon the automobile.” Bridges and Walls is supported in part by the California Arts Council , a state agency. And special thanks to NPR’s Story Lab. Follow this series at KCRW.com/BridgesandWalls

4 MIN, 49 SEC Mar 20, 2018

Design and Architecture

DoT chief: road diets aren’t dead Late last year the beachside neighborhood of Playa Del Rey got into a road rage over a road diet. Some car lanes were removed to slow traffic, and bike lanes were added. Drivers were not happy, and even launched a recall effort targeting Councilman Mike Bonin. The city backtracked and got rid of the bike lanes and restored the car lanes. But they added a number of features to better protect pedestrians, including new crosswalks with flashing lights, and “pedestrian head start” traffic signals. These compromises incensed road diet advocates in LA -- and chilled politicians. In December 2017 Councilman David Ryu rejected a full road diet on 6th Street in midtown, which had been sought by a coalition of advocates and neighborhood groups. He said the majority of his constituents wanted more traffic safety features but did not want vehicle lanes turned into bike lanes. All of this has called into question the future of two initiatives shaping LA’s transit future. One is the city’s Mobility Plan 2035, which calls for 100s of miles of street redesigns aimed at encouraging alternative transportation, and improving pedestrian safety. The other is a related effort called Vision Zero. That’s a city plan to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2025. One of powerful advocates for these goals is Seleta Reynolds. She’s general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. We visited her in her downtown LA office recently and asked what’s the future for road diets, after Playa del Rey. She says the outlook is still bright: “This one particular incident happened in a very specific part of the city under very specific conditions and has not changed that desire in many other neighborhoods around the city to come back and tackle those same questions. The outcome might be a road diet or it might be something else.” She poses the question: “who is the street for and how can we balance creating a street where people can get from A to B but also can protect everybody who's trying to use that street? And a street that moves at a human pace is also good for the neighborhoods through which through which those streets pass.” The road diet on San Pedro Street. Photo courtesy LA Department of Transportation.

6 MIN, 33 SEC Jan 09, 2018



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