Park?: There’s an idea to turn the 90-freeway into a park with affordable housing. Courtesy image

The 90-freeway in Marina Del Rey is a vestigial roadway left over from a bygone era’s freeway expansion boom and like an appendix or wisdom teeth, a new group thinks the community would be better if it were removed.

What is now the Marina Freeway began life as the Slauson Freeway in 1947 and was supposed to connect the coastal community to Anaheim however, construction was never finished leaving the two disconnected western and eastern portions with some 40ish miles between them. Now, a partnership between a design firm and alternative transit advocates has proposed demolishing the three mile western portion and using the reclaimed land as park space with about 4,000 affordable housing units on site. Proponents envision keeping minimal car lanes on the site and transforming the majority of the land into a new pedestrian/bike focused area.

“Marina Central Park is a massive opportunity for LA, currently one of the most park poor, and housing poor counties in California. It would reconnect a currently divided street grid with new access to Centinela Creek, a new linear path and green space, the existing Ballona Creek trail, and the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve,” said the website announcing the project.

The idea comes from design company SWA and Streets For All, a nonprofit that advocates for a less car-centric culture in Los Angeles.

According to SWA, the busiest intersection along the Marina del Rey freeway, where it crosses 405, sees about 79,000 cars per day. That puts the road in the second of five tiers when it comes to usage, with most intersections reporting more than 160,000 cars per day.

While the plan seems far-fetched, it has already garnered support from a handful of local officials including Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, Assemblymember Isaac Bryan and State Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas.

Bass sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg asking for federal money to study the idea.

“Tearing down the Marina Freeway, which sits on 100 acres of right-of-way with 50 acres of concrete and steel, represents an opportunity to address past harms, build housing, and create community space for all Angelenos,” she said. “As currently envisioned, Marina Central Park would be one of the largest parks in the Los Angeles region. It is my understanding that this project would provide nearly 4,000 units of new housing – including potentially 100% affordable housing – and mixed-use development, which can reduce vehicle miles traveled. It would address community access to much-needed open space with connected paths, jogging trails, a dedicated bike path, a bus rapid transit corridor, and dedicated lanes for limited car use. Lastly, it would help restore access to and re-naturalize Centinela Creek to improve a community asset that can be enjoyed by the community.”

Bass is supporting a request for $2 million to pay for a feasibility study.

Proponents said they would include public outreach should they find the cash for a study and that it would likely take two years to complete. Their ball-park estimate for the entire project would be about a decade start-to-finish.

For more information about the concept, visit https://www.marinacentralpark.com/.

editor@smdp.com

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...