Beverly Hills Freeway

Introduction

Right of Way maps obtained from Caltrans still show some of the route the SR-2 Freeway. These maps cover the route from its current end at Glendale Blvd in Silverlake to just west of La Cienega Blvd in West Hollywood. Had this freeway been constructed, it would have obliterated the central business district of West Hollywood and the Santa Monica Blvd corridor west of there. Documents from Caltrans and the California Highway Commission dating to 1976 show the adopted routing, described below, being rescinded. Various reasons were given for this decision, all very much applicable today.

As planned, the freeway would have crossed the US 101 Hollywood Freeway near Vermont Ave, where the existing freeway was built to accommodate the interchange. The interchange with the Hollywood Freeway has had a few different plans itself. I’ve seen at least three separate designs so far. Only the 1949 design seems to be what was built. According to the freeway plans, as shown in 1979, it was to be an elevated viaduct similar to the Santa Monica Freeway between the East Los Angeles Interchange and the Harbor Freeway.

Designs for the US 101 Interchange

These maps show the various designs that were proposed for the US 101 and SR-2 Interchange. One design, the one it seems to be at least partly built for, shows a freeway going southeast from the interchange. This was to be the “Santa Monica Parkway”, a short freeway running parallel with the Hollywood Freeway to the Harbor Freeway.

Earliest plan for the interchange in 1947. This design was not built.
Earliest plan for the interchange in 1947. This design was not built.
1950 proposal for the interchange. This is the interchange the freeway was built for, or at least the closest proposal. Note the lack of a proposed Glendale Freeway and its connectors.
1950 proposal for the interchange. This is the interchange the freeway was built for, or at least the closest proposal. Note the lack of a proposed Glendale Freeway and its connectors. The freeway connections to the southeast were a section of the proposed Santa Monica Freeway, which would have run parallel with the Hollywood Freeway to the Harbor Freeway.
Interchange as shown on 1974 Caltrans Right of Way maps. This was the last design for the interchange. Note how the interchange is now north of the "built" interchange at Vermont Ave.
Interchange as shown on 1974 Caltrans Right of Way maps. This was the last design for the interchange. Note how the interchange is now north of the “built” interchange at Vermont Ave.
Drainage plan from 1949 showing the ramps for the Santa Monica Freeway at the Hollywood Freeway.
Drainage plan from 1949 showing the ramps for the Santa Monica Freeway at the Hollywood Freeway. Note how the SB 101 lanes pass under the WB 2 lanes. This explains the dip the south lanes take just beyond Vermont Ave.
Early 1950's map showing a proposal for a Beverly Blvd interchange.
Early 1950’s map showing a proposal for a Beverly Blvd interchange.

Right of Way Maps

These maps show the route as planned in 1974 and 1979. I have only been able to find maps as far as its junction with Santa Monica Blvd near Palm Ave. These maps do overlap so some data may be duplicated. I have posted them in a West to East format.

Section from Santa Monica Blvd to Fairfax Blvd.
Santa Monica Blvd to Fairfax Blvd
Fairfax Blvd to near Citrus Ave
Fairfax Blvd to near Citrus Ave
Martel Ave to Cahuenga Blvd
Martel Ave to Cahuenga Blvd
Mansfield Ave to Plymouth Blvd
Mansfield Ave to Plymouth Blvd
Beachwood Dr to US 101
Beachwood Dr to US 101
US 101 to Hoover Ave
US 101 to Hoover Ave. This map also shows what would have been modified on US 101 to accommodate this version of the freeway interchange.
Virgil Ave to Berkeley Ave
Virgil Ave to Berkeley Ave
Silverlake Blvd to Glendale Blvd
Silverlake Blvd to Glendale Blvd

 

Naming

The unbuilt portion of the SR-2 Freeway would have had two names. East of the US 101 Freeway, it was the Glendale Freeway. West of US 101, it would have been the Beverly Hills Freeway. Early maps from the 1950’s called this the Santa Monica Freeway, as the route would have supplanted Santa Monica Blvd. What is now the Santa Monica Freeway was known as the Olympic Freeway, supplanting Olympic Blvd. As such, technically present I-10 did not bypass US 66, the Beverly Hills Freeway would have but never did.

Routing

The basic route of the unbuilt freeway heads southwest from its current end at Glendale Blvd, crossing the Hollywood Freeway at Vermont Ave. At Vermont Ave, the route takes a more westerly direction, following Melrose Ave. The freeway would have taken the block between Melrose Ave and Clinton St west to Gower St. Here, the route takes a northerly curve to near Highland Ave, settling on a western course again between Willoughby Ave and Waring Ave. In this section, Waring Ave would become a one-way east frontage road with the freeway forming the northern side. The route stays with this course until just west of La Cienega Blvd, where it curves southerly to blend into Santa Monica Blvd at Palm Ave.

Interchanges

A few local interchanges were also planned along the route. All are basic diamond interchanges with some using frontage roads. Starting at Glendale Blvd, the ramps are as follows:

Duane Ave – WB On and EB Off
Silverlake Blvd – WB Off and EB On
Sunset Blvd – WB On and EB Off
Hoover St – WB Off and EB On
US 101 ramps would have covered all movements except WB 2-SB 101, SB 101-WB 2
Normandie Ave – WB On and EB Off
Western Ave – Full
Larchmont Blvd / Gower St – WB Off and EB On
Vine St – WB Off
Melrose Ave (south side hook ramps between Wilcox Ave and Cahuenga Blvd) – EB On and Off
Cahuenga Blvd – WB On
Highland Ave – Full
La Brea Ave – Full
Genesee Ave – WB Off and EB On
Crescent Heights Blvd – WB On and EB Off
La Cienega Blvd – Full

Bridges

The freeway would have had a limited amount of bridges, which would have hampered an already problematic street grid system in the West Hollywood / Hollywood / Silverlake area. While a complete bridge log is not possible to construct, a partial log is. Starting at the east end near Glendale Blvd, the bridges are listed below, heading west:

Glendale Blvd
Duane St
Berkeley Ave
Benton Way
Silverlake Blvd / Sunset Blvd (viaduct)
Micheltorena St
Hoover St
Virgil Ave
Vermont Ave
Heliotrope Dr
US 101

West of US 101, the elevated viaduct would have had the following streets pass under:
Normandie Ave
Harvard Blvd
Western Ave
Wilton Pl
Van Ness Ave
Larchmont Blvd
Melrose Ave (rerouted between Gower St and Cahuenga Blvd)
Vine St / Rossmore Ave
Cahuenga Blvd
Wilcox Ave
June St / Seward Ave (June St NB transitions to Seward Ave)
Highland Ave
La Brea Ave
Poinsettia Pl
Martel Ave / Vista St (Martel Ave NB transitions to Vista St)
Curson Ave
Genesee Ave
Fairfax Ave
Crescent Heights Blvd
Sweetzer Ave
La Cienega Blvd

Photographs of the built sections

While the freeway itself was never built, there are some stub ramps and provisions for the freeway at the Hollywood Freeway junction.

Current bus ramp at Vermont Ave. This was added in the 1970's. This would have carried the eastbound lanes of the Santa Monica Freeway as originally planned.
Current bus ramp at Vermont Ave. This was added in the 1970’s. This would have carried the eastbound lanes of the Santa Monica Freeway as originally planned.
1949 date stamp on the Vermont Ave bridge.
1949 date stamp on the Vermont Ave bridge.
View of the southbound bus ramp and Vermont Ave bridge.
View of the southbound bus ramp and Vermont Ave bridge.
At Virgil Ave in 1960. Note the stub ramp leading off from the NB lanes (right lanes). The NB Virgil Ave bridge is also slightly wider at its northern end to accommodate this ramp.
At Virgil Ave in 1960. Note the stub ramp leading off from the NB lanes (right lanes). The NB Virgil Ave bridge is also slightly wider at its northern end to accommodate this ramp.
101-2-aeria-mosaic-1960
1960 Aerial view of the Hollywood Freeway from Virgil Ave to Melrose Ave
USGS map showing the interchange with Vermont Ave as built.
USGS map showing the interchange with Vermont Ave as built.

Abandonment of the proposed freeway

In 1976, the route adopted for the Hwy 2 Freeway from its present terminus in Silverlake to the 405 was rescinded. This officially ended any plans for a freeway along that route or any other route.

LA-02-Sept-1976 – Glendale Blvd to US 101

LA-02-April-1976 – US 101 to I-405

Conclusion

Congestion would have spilled onto the streets much the same way that it does today on the Santa Monica Freeway, making a bad problem worse. In many ways, it is good this freeway was not built. A compromise may have been extending the Glendale Freeway to terminate at the Hollywood Freeway. This was also never constructed. Instead, surface streets such as Alvarado St, Glendale Blvd, and others take up the slack of the unbuilt freeway. SR-2 was rerouted onto Alvarado and Glendale Blvd after the existing portion of the Glendale Freeway was built. This was meant as a temporary connection in 1962. Still in use in 2013, it’s obvious a change is needed. Some are planned, but none will truly solve the congestion problem in this area.

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