The City of Long Beach has received $30M in federal funding to begin the realignment of the stretch of Shoreline Drive where it meets the 710 Freeway at Cesar Chavez Park in DTLB, according to a press release sent out by former mayor and Congressmember Robert Garcia.
The massive undertaking—in which city officials say this $30M received will only cover the first part of a two-part project, the second part which will cost another $30M—will essentially push what is currently the northbound Shoreline Drive lane to buttress with the southbound lane at the easternmost edge of the Los Angeles River.
This means the 3rd Street entrance onto the 710 will be closed while Drake Park and Cesar Chavez Park could be combined, a discussion that has been happening for over a decade.
The reimagining of the area long been championed by Garcia as well as local nonprofits, particularly City Fabrick.
The latter has led an advocacy campaign, including tactics such as partnering with the Congress on New Urbanism, to reimagine Cesar Chavez Park and the arterials surrounding the area, particularly Shoreline Drive and Shoemaker Bridge.
“This will be an absolutely transformative project for Long Beach, trading a car-oriented piece of concrete for a people-centered green space that is honestly needed in that community,” said Brian Ulaszewski, Executive Director of City Fabrick. “This investment is going to be a reward to everyone involved but most a reward to the residents who put so much time and energy into this bold vision”
Ulaszewski noted that residents surrounding Chavez and Edison Elementary Schools have been “sandwiched between the on- and offramps of the area”—a sentiment Garcia echoed over a decade ago when he suggested the Shoemaker Bridge, which was set to be replaced by a new bridge but was eventually shot down after the 710 expansion project failed, be turned into a park. That could still be a possibility could the Shoemaker Bridge project find proper funding.
According to Garcia’s office, the first part of the project will consist of:
- Demolition of the existing northbound lane of Shoreline Drive
- Relocation of major utilities
- Required temporary traffic control and rerouting
- Major civil engineering and required regrading
- Removal of old fences, hardscaping, and landscaping
- Installation of new fiber, irrigation and power conduits
- Relocation of street lighting to accommodate new street and park alignment
- Partial funding for the realigned roadway and new medians at Shoreline Drive
However, Joy Contreras of Public Works has noted that a firm groundbreaking has not been set yet since the additional funding for part two needs to be collected, meaning the project will not be done in parts but in one overall construction project.
This means the groundbreaking is likely to be in 2025 or 2026, according to Contreras, expressing uncertainty at the timeframe for the project once it begins.