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Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

Temple City, California

by by Gruen Associates

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

Rosemead Boulevard, redesigned by Gruen Associates, utilizes several different aspects of streetscape design to make drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians feel safe and welcome. Lush planting, accent palms, pedestrian lighting and gateway elements completely transformed a bleak concrete underpass and underused boulevard that served as the entrance into Temple City, Calif.

Gruen Associates was the Landscape Architect and Urban Designer for the Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification Project for the City of Temple City, California, which celebrated the boulevard's grand opening on May 10, 2014. What began as a street safety enhancement project became the transformation of the two-mile stretch of Rosemead Boulevard into a newly-built, landscaped, multi-modal grand boulevard.

This street design project located in the San Gabriel Valley near Los Angeles transformed a former Caltrans highway into a livable, walkable streetscape that serves as a catalyst for community development. An intensive redesign shows how street design can change the local environment and support the goals of sustainable design for future building projects. The project was made possible by Metro - L.A. County's transportation agency - the City of Temple City, CalRecycle and Caltrans.

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

The pedestrian lighting, protected bike lanes, planted medians and parkways, bioswales and shade trees transformed the corridor into a "complete street".

Protecting the People
Major roadways are one of the largest public open spaces that can be found within a city. As development is maximized within city boundaries, opportunities for providing amenities and green spaces present a challenge due to limited space. The development of Rosemead Boulevard demonstrates how streetscapes can meet this need by improving the visual impact of streets while providing sustainable and healthful methods of transportation. This project shows how a street designed with only cars in mind can be transformed under the expertise of Landscape Architects, to mix vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic with landscape and bring a humanizing element to the street.

Addressing community concerns about the safety of bicyclists, Gruen Associates provided a physically-separated, seven-foot-wide cycle track so that bicyclists can now ride in bike lanes separated from vehicles by planted median islands. The number of vehicular lanes remained unchanged, though they were narrowed to allow for the addition of the bicycle lanes. Trees form a canopy over the streets and sidewalks and provide shade for pedestrians. New sidewalks, where in some cases none existed or were worn with physical obstacles, allow for pedestrian traffic to transit the entire length of Rosemead Boulevard as well.

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

Custom powder-coated titanium bike racks designed by Gruen Associates' landscape architects stand at seating nodes along the corridor.

Planting a Course
Responding to the existing conditions and City's goals, the design team re-envisioned Rosemead Boulevard as a destination as well as a piece of transportation infrastructure. Drawing on inspiration from Grand Boulevards around the world, the intent was to create a walkable, usable street that enhances the urban experience and forms a lush but modern park-like promenade. That, of course, meant developing a planting scheme of trees and groundcovers that can be maintained in the Southern California climate. It also meant evaluating the different transportation modes that needed to be accommodated (car, bus, bicycle, and pedestrians) and locating them to enhance the user experience.

Over 400 new street trees provide shade and help to reduce the urban heat island effect. Low maintenance, low-water-use shrubs and groundcovers are planted in all available parkways, medians and tree wells to help beautify the roadway streetscape. Planted medians between the travel lanes and the protected bike lane with slotted curbs allow storm water to be diverted and infiltrate into the ground. The roadway was repaved using recycled rubberized asphalt, a road paving material made by blending ground-up recycled tires with asphalt to produce a binder which is then mixed with conventional aggregate materials. This mix is then placed and compacted into a road surface. The recycled material helps to reduce tire noise on the street. New LED and high-efficiency metal halide streetlights reduce the energy demands of the street and lengthen the timing for the requirement for maintenance calls.

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

Etched representations of camellias appear along the sidewalk. These will be replaced over time with selected artist concepts. Five glass and stone mosaic murals, designed by artist Carole Choucair Oueijan, are part of the art installation. Her mosaic panels depict the history, culture and contemporary life of Temple City residents at transit stops along Rosemead Blvd.

Influencing a Community
As the project's Landscape Architect-led design team, Gruen Associates' role in maximizing sustainable landscape design elements advances the practice of landscape architecture as integral to urban resurgence while influencing the use of this approach as a standard design solution for underused boulevards.

The traffic-calming design of Rosemead Boulevard is an innovative approach that creates inviting linkages for pedestrians and various modes of traffic. It impresses upon the idea that communities should not be passed through but instead explored, while adding to the local economic growth and sustained prosperity.

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

This sketch of the view of the sidewalk from across the street demonstrates the mixture of site amenities and plantings, which include shade and accent trees such as Jacaranda mimosifolia, Pink Trumpet Trees, Chinese Flame Trees and Chinese Pistaches.

The two-mile Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification project and its major Class I (separated) bike path has become a landmark project and catalyst for new bike path systems that are emerging throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

A small bump out median separates the travel lanes from the protected bike path.

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

The cycle track is used by commuters, avid cyclists and cyclists taking a leisurely weekend ride. The idea is that the bike lane was designed to be safe for all users, as they ride beside 14' classic light towers.

The City officials were excited to present the new, modernized boulevard and encouraged people to rediscover the street in a new way-walk on the new sidewalks, bike on the new bike lanes, drive on the newly paved roadway, enjoy the new plant life including nearly 5,000 plants, see the City's first public art installments or visit favorite local businesses. Additional amenities, such as bus shelters, bike racks, seating areas and the "Art Walk" that will develop over time all bring character to the street and reflect the values of the community. "Temple City had ambitious goals to develop a highway into a place for the community," stated Jill Wagner, AIA, LEED AP, an associate partner at Gruen Associates. "The transformation of Rosemead Boulevard has been extraordinary and is only the beginning for the City."

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

The new landscaped parkways provide a buffer between pedestrians on the sidewalk and cars in the street and enhanced the visual quality of the city. They also provide soil volume that street trees need to grow into healthy, mature trees that provide shade, collect storm water, consume carbon and provide other environmental and health benefits.

The project has achieved numerous awards including a 2013 Planning Excellence in Implementation Award, Small Jurisdiction from the American Planning Association; the 2014 Quality of Life Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects; the 2014 Merit Award for Urban Design from AIA California, and was voted one of the "Best 10 New Bike Lanes of 2014" from the PeopleforBikes organization.

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

This piece of art is part of Temple City's Art in Public Places Program and Public Arts Commission. The artist shows the person in the sculpture hopping on a Red Car trolley, part of the Pacific Electric Line that connected Temple City to Los Angeles and ran through much of Southern California. The arts help to connect the city to its rich history.

Rosemead Boulevard Safety Enhancements and Beautification

Drought-tolerant planting in the median with accent trees provide aesthetic benefits, but also help slow down traffic. Drivers tend to reduce speeds as they react to a more enclosed street edge.

Team List
Landscape Architect / Urban Designer - Gruen Associates
Traffic Engineer / Electrical Engineer - KOA Corporation
Civil Engineer - VCA Engineers, Inc.
Structural Engineer - Englekirk
Environmental Graphics - Selbert Perkins Design
Irrigation Design - Sweeney + Associates
Contractor - LA Engineering
Construction Managers - Vanir Construction Management & Transtech
Photographer - Michael Urbanek

As seen in LASN magazine, August 2019.

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December 8, 2019, 5:10 am PDT

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