Sunday, October 21

Throwback Thursday, Week 9: The freeway that almost was

Then-UCLA Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy opposed a freeway that would have ran next to UCLA. (Daily Bruin archives)

Then-UCLA Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy opposed a freeway that would have ran next to UCLA. (Daily Bruin archives)

If you’ve ever jogged down Sunset Boulevard, you may have felt like you’re running next to a highway. More than 50 years ago, that might have become reality.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the state wanted to build a freeway connecting the 405 Freeway with the 101 Freeway near Hollywood that would have passed through Beverly Hills and been adjacent to UCLA.

And at some point in the designing process in the 1960s, planners considered having the freeway run along Sunset Boulevard – and it received a lot of mixed reactions.

Then-Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy supported a University of California Board of Regents decision to oppose the freeway running right next to UCLA, reports a Nov. 19, 1963 Daily Bruin article.

The regents also voted to oppose any freeway in West Los Angeles that would adversely affect the campus environment and traffic to and from campus.

Furthermore, Franklin said he feared the the freeway would encroach onto UCLA property and damage the aesthetic of the surrounding residential communities. He also said building the freeway would require widening Sunset Boulevard’s narrow streets, which would also damage the area.

Instead, Franklin suggested searching for alternatives, as “the UCLA administration is not underestimating future serious traffic problems in West LA.”

In a Dec. 5, 1963 Bruin article, several residents said they were upset at the University’s decision, citing that it had should not be concerned with the possible effects to surrounding neighborhoods.

Several residents were upset about UCLA's opposition of the Sunset Boulevard route of the Beverly Hills freeway. (Daily Bruin archives)

The president of the West Side Taxpayers Association also argued in the article that the freeway would only benefit students, because Santa Monica Boulevard is congested and it would make Sunset Boulevard safer and straighter.

Sunset Boulevard was eventually dropped from the plan in favor of Santa Monica Boulevard. This route would remove less costly homes and require less grading because of the level ground along the street, according to a Dec. 9, 1963 Bruin article.

Sunset Boulevard was one of several routes planned under the Beverly Hills Freeway.(Daily Bruin archives)

The downside to this route was that it would have duplicated service that the Santa Monica Freeway, known as the 10 Freeway, already provided. However, plans for the freeway were never solidified and ended in 1975.

Looking back at it today, there are strong arguments in favor of a freeway that would follow Sunset Boulevard.

It would have eased traffic along the 405 Freeway, as drivers coming from the San Fernando Valley or UCLA would not have to go on it to get to downtown Los Angeles. Additionally, it would be easier for commuters to access UCLA, considering Sunset Boulevard is congested during rush hour.

Additionally, any effects caused by the modification of the street would have been mitigated by now and the very curvy road would have been straightened. And as the Dec. 9, 1963 article explained, it would have evicted fewer families than other alternatives and provided service different from that of the 10 Freeway.

On the other hand, the freeway would have disrupted many residents that had already settled there and caused a divide in the community. Not to mention I would prefer a train over a freeway any day.

Next time you’re jogging around campus, you should feel lucky that we don’t live next to a freeway.

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News senior staff

Roberto Luna Jr. is currently a senior staffer covering Westwood, crime and transportation. He was previously an assistant News editor from 2015-2016 and a News contributor from 2014-2015.

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