Daily Archives: September 17, 2015

Freeway Ramp Removal: The 2 at Fletcher

One of the undesirable features of some of LA’s older freeways is substandard spacing between successive interchanges. This creates congestion on the mainline, because there’s not enough weaving space for traffic coming onto the freeway to cross lanes with traffic getting off the freeway. Since LA’s arterial roads are often spaced a mile apart – about the ideal spacing for urban freeway interchanges – the additional ramps often connect to local streets that shouldn’t serve traffic accessing freeways. Think, for example, of the 101 between downtown and the Hollywood Split, the 10 between the 710 and the 605, the 110 between the 105 and downtown, or the 5 between the 710 and the 605.

This results in a situation where an urban improvement can coincidentally benefit a freeway, or where a freeway improvement can coincidentally benefit the city, depending on your point of view.

A local example that would be a great candidate for removal is the interchange of the 2 and Fletcher Drive, on the border between LA and Glendale. I suspect that this was a temporary south termination of the freeway built in 1958, extended across the river to intersect the 5 in 1962, but I can’t find confirmation.

2-fletcher-exist

This interchange provides very limited function for traffic circulation. Traffic exiting the 2 southbound could use the San Fernando off-ramp, located just 2,000’ upstream; traffic entering the 2 northbound could simply continue up Fletcher, turn right on San Fernando, and use the San Fernando on-ramp. This situation creates a dangerous weave on the 2 southbound, made worse by the fact that most of the traffic on the 2 south is trying to get to the right hand lanes, which lead to the 5 south. This interchange also takes up about 800’ of property fronting on the LA River.

Given the low utility, there’s no reason we can’t simply eliminate this interchange and redevelop the property. This is a great site, fronting on the river, and since there’s a large high voltage power line running on the river bank, the riverfront will remain green space. The rest of the site should be zoned R5, the city’s highest residential zone. A very rough layout is shown below.

2-fletcher-prop

The grey areas show roads; the orange creamsicle blobs are building sites. Note that we can reuse the underpass for the northbound onramp to provide an access to the opposite side of the freeway, where there’s some additional vacant land and a mini-storage facility that could be redeveloped too. At R5 density, these three sites could accommodate about 380 housing units, and of course, density bonuses could increase that further. That’s a pretty decent contribution towards the mayor’s housing goals.

Technical note: while this sketch is crude, the roadways were laid out using DraftSight, a free 2D CAD program. If you want to play around with horizontal construction like roads & railroads, but don’t have access to AutoCAD or MicroStation, I cannot recommend this program highly enough. It has a very AutoCAD-y feel and saves in dwg format, and you can reference in aerial images. Like the basic version of AutoCAD, it doesn’t do railroad spirals, but there are pretty easy workarounds for that, at least for rough planning. Unlike Google Earth & Sketch Up, this is easy to use for horizontal geometry (what, you don’t know the chord length or “bulge” – i.e. middle ordinate  – of the curve you’re trying to lay out?) and will satisfy curiosity towards the engineering feasibility of a preliminary design.

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