Will a Silver Lake street trade freeway noise for an “East Berlin/Escape From New York ” aesthetic?

Rendering of Allesandro Way freeway sound wall. Image courtesy Diane Edwardson

A recent photo of Allesandro Way/Photo courtesy of Diane Edwardson

Plans to build sound walls along the 2 Freeway on the border of Silver Lake and Echo Park have drawn some mixed reaction. The walls would be built as part of remaking the southern tip of the freeway where it meets Glendale Boulevard. However, traffic engineers have told Silver Lake residents living along Allesandro Way that there is not enough room to build a new wall without cutting down the existing trees, said blogger Diane Edwardson. That has left some residents passing around petitions and creating renderings (including the one above) against the construction of the walls and the chopping down of trees.

One of  the readers of Edwardson’s Corralitas Red Car blog  wrote:

While searching for properties in different parts of the city, it was these very walls that kept us from purchasing near them. They give neighborhoods an East Berlin/Escape from New York aesthetic that is cold and claustrophobic. Walling off one neighborhood from another just seems like a horrible solution to any problem.

Edwardson said the walls would do little to reduce freeway noise for residents living further up the hills on both sides of the highway.


  1. The taggers will LOVE it.

  2. This would never happen in LA, but what about making it a one-way street and having room for both the sound wall and trees?


    I live on Earl St., mere houses up from Allesandro Way.
    DO NOT cut down those beautiful trees make a damn “sound wall” — are you KIDDING me???

  4. The existing trees reduce the noise level from the freeway while improving our air quality, adding shade, giving a habitat to wildlife, and beautifying the neighborhood.

    Freeway walls bring blight, graffiti, and ugliness. Our neighborhood is united against them.

    @Josh: With the already-limited access for emergency vehicles in our neighborhood, narrowing streets even further is a non-starter.

    • How about narrowing the freeway to make room for trees and a wall?

      Seriously this looks like an efficient way to ruin a neighborhood. What is the DOT thinking? Who on earth would prefer a monstrous soundwall that will only attract graffitti and dumping to a bank of mature trees and foliage?

      • Metro isn’t thinking. They don’t care about preserving neighborhoods, quality of life for the residents, or even the logic of their projects. Its about touting ‘improvements’ and about shady business deals with construction and corporations.

        See their recent antics regarding the 710 for an example, and how protests blocked some of their plans– you CAN fight this and STOP them!

    • I’m with you Russell B. It’s a horrible idea!

  5. Keep in mind, Caltrans created this monstrosity without a request from the community to do so, but couldn’t seem to incorporate the community’s requests and suggestions. Requests and suggestions that the community spent time and energy working on over the past 30 (yes 30) years. We all want a better ending to the #2 freeway. But this is so gulag-looking. Worse, it will do NOTHING to block the noise 20′ higher as noise travels up and it may even make it worse in that the noise will bounce around. Please, stop this nonsense now and go back to the community requests & suggestions.

  6. not to mention that the people who live there moved into a place RIGHT NEXT TO A FREEWAY… so like yeah… theres noise there… from the freeway….

    • Such a helpful comment pk, thanks for sharing!

      • I thought the same as you, until I re-read the comment. I think pk is saying that people who live near the freeway are already aware there’s freeway noise so they’re used to it and don’t need no ugly soundwall. I think.

      • my point is that people shouldn’t add blight and kill trees to solve a problem they knew was there before they moved in..

        also it’s not hard to imagine that the wall will reflect more sound to the homes on the OTHER side of the 2… and they would have a right to complain about it because that wasn’t part of the deal when THEY moved in…

        Unless THEY build an even BIGGER wall on their side.. MORE WALLS!!!!! 😀

  7. An architect buddy told me about a new type of asphalt/paving/freeway design that reduces the sound from the freeways substantially. I forget what it’s called, but THAT’s what they should be doing if theyre going through all this trouble anyways —

    • This is called “open-graded friction course” (OGFC) or “stone matrix asphalt” (SMA) You’re right, this would be a much better and less costly alternative to sound walls.

    • i like this idea.. they’d only need to do it in the canyons.

      or we can hang old mattresses over the top of the freeway. that totally worked in my bands rehearsal space in my parents basement.

  8. A terrible idea. All things are fine the way they are. That big apartment complex on the other side of Allesandro is bad enough!

  9. This area, due to the close proximity to the freeway and its somewhat secluded nature, brings car thieves (that leave stolen cars and burn them), taggers, smash and grabs, car to car criminal activity, illegal garbage and large item dumping, not to mention the two bodies that have been coldly dumped in the area in the last year.

    The building of walls will only exacerbate any and all of these problems by creating even more and greater cover for these activities. All this for a minimal at best sound deadening?

    If you drive slowly down the length of Alessandro Way, use your imagination and envision a 16 foot wall on one side, it is an overwhelming feeling.

    If these walls are built the unusual and special look and feeling of this area will forever be changed as well as the quality of life of the people living with or “within” these walls.

  10. @Soundless Freeway is right….there are new road surface technologies (rubberized asphalt for one) that cut down the noise without having to build a wall (though it might involve getting Sacramento and Caltrans involved in approving). The new 101 extension in Phoenix uses rubberized asphalt and the noise reduction is amazing….and it recycles old tires to boot!

  11. have they considered building the wall out of recycled tires that would be filled with cement?

    it would add to the spirit of silverlake, be a good way of absorb the sound thru the rubber, and most imprtantly would show nor cal whats up!

    disco stu dont advertise

    • Lovely idea, let’s combine it with the used mattress idea and just turn the canyon into dump, thus getting rid of all traffic and traffic noise.

  12. Sound walls are just plain STUPID!!! Total waste of money when other better cheaper options are available.

  13. These soundwalls will only reduce sound by five decibles, compared to 67 that is desireable. And the sound wall will cause the noise of traffic to reverberate on the hillside opposite them (s0und travels at right angles). Cutting the trees will reduce the CO2 absorbtion from exhaust emisions that come from the idling vehicles in the parking lot that the 2 becomes nearly every weekday morning. Nearly everyone will learn this the hard way, but only if the walls are built. Do residents really want to take a chance on just how much benefit, or absence thereof, from these wall and the loss of trees?

  14. Amazing plan, CalTrans! Eliminate beauty and replace it with a graffiti target that adds nothing to the air quality, the value of our homes, or the aesthetic of the neighborhood. It’s easier to slap paint on continually graffitied walls than maintain live trees and foliage, but hey, won’t that maintenance keep more people working?

  15. As a close neighbor to the 2 freeway, I really enjoy the tree line! And the noise is not bothersome! Hopefully the trees will never go!

  16. I think it’s really cool that they managed to cut down all the trees and erect the huge wall without disturbing the cars parked on the right side of the road! The Prius didn’t even get dirty. (Looks like the residents are going to have to hop the wall to retrieve their garbage cans, though.)

  17. It is important for the community to understand a bit more background about this project. The damage wrought by the defeat of the freeway project in the 1950’s (the Beverly Hills Freeway!), the first citizen victory against a major freeway projectand in California, has been the traffic and neighborhood deterioration from all the traffic dumped onto Glendale Blvd., Alvarado and other streets.

    Federal funding was obtained to mitigate and improve the terminus. Of the something like $20 million, much has been consumed by planning, consultants and the process with community groups. Then an alternative that would have had significant positive results hit a dead end with CalTrans declaring that the project could not do anything that would slow down traffic on the freeway! As a result, it was decided that the only thing they could really spend much money on was … sound walls! Sound walls can be very effective in many neighborhoods, but were never contemplated as part of the planning on this project.

    And now, even the modest improvements are now shoved into a yet-unfunded “phase 2” of the project. It’s all a classic case of bureaucratic and planning fumbling. No inclusion of the Corralitas Red Car property with bike and hiking paths, no conversion of the overpass to public space, no acquisition of vacant lots next to the Field of Dreams for more public space, no bike or pedestrian… or even neighborhood friendly improvements!

  18. @landsnark: Very well-explained. Ideally we can get the sound walls deleted from the plan while redirecting the money allocated for them to something beneficial.

  19. I live just west of Alessandro and am really against this idea for most of the reasons mentioned by others. Blight, will attract graffiti aplenty, people already chose to move there … etc.

    But no one has mentioned this. IT’S THE BEGINNING AND END OF THE FREEWAY. How loud can it be? Seriously. In the mornings, it is a parking lot southbound, so, no noise there, and at any other time of day it is hardly racing with floods of traffic. It just isn’t.

    Please do not do this DOT. Dumbest and least conducive to a specific community idea, ever. It’s not the 10, and this isn’t Covina.

    • Speaking as someone who lives on a hill overlooking the 2, on the Allesandro side .. it’s not that loud. When I moved in I thought I’d never be able to ignore it, but now it’s a bit like a stream.

      • YOU know what is louder that I can personally attest to? Glendale Blvd.

        That is non-stop commotion and flow. It’s called City Life. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  20. Why don’t you try spending OUR money on something our city needs!
    As many have said, it’s nothing but a wasteful invitation for graffiti artists and trash dumpers.

    It’s an abomination!

  21. Miles of blank slate for taggers. Unwise. And just plain ugly.

  22. Rubberized asphalt from the 5 to Glendale Blvd + more trees. That’s all.

    • “Noise Tests on Chip seal and Asphalt Rubber pavements on 7th Street by the City of Phoenix showed a decrease of about 10 decibels, or about 90% reduction in noise level. Research shows reduction in noise levels of 50 to 75% is commonly attained. ”

      Come on CalTrans. Wake Up.

  23. Ah, yes. The awesome planning power of Metro/Caltrans at its finest. Same people that also want to bulldoze my house in an HPOZ to build the 710 extension.

  24. So ridiculous that we keep having the same discussions over and over — residents have spoken time and time again at all sorts of meetings about what we want. About what works in our neighborhood. We’ve voted on numerous proposals. And yet our voices are usually ignored. What’s it going to take to get planners and bureaucrats to listen to us? We’ve got ideas — often good — about how to transform the existing environment in keeping with the spirit and history and ecology of our community. We’re already said what we want to see happen at the end of the 2 — and people have offered up excellent suggestions here about different ways to reduce noise without a wall. Time for the “deciders” to move forward with what we the peeps want!

  25. Please do not cut the trees! Sound walls are ugly. Is this what you would want by your house???

  26. Whew. Boy is that ugly!

  27. I chose to move to this neighborhood because of the charm of living in an outdoorsy environment. It’s one of the best kept secrets in Los Angeles. Further, most people move into the neighborhood knowing full well that they are going to be hearing noise from the freeways. You get used to it. Much better to have trees and birds and a nice aesthetic than to let the concrete jungle spread.

  28. They’ve been studying this for so long. And to come up with such a lame fix. The residences nearest the freeway will benefit the most. How about just soundproofing those and planting MORE trees? The performance of all the agencies involved: City DOT, County Metro and CalTransm leaves a lot to be desired.

  29. Since this spur of the 2 was never meant to be the beginning/end of the freeway, but rather just part of a larger monstrosity to connect the suburbs to Century City, why does it even need to exist. The best way to remove the freeway traffic from Glendale Blvd would be to remove the 2 in its entirety south and west of the 5. Northern Echo Park/Eastern Silver Lake should be a residential community, not a thoroughfare.

    No 2=no traffic
    No 2=no noise

    let’s demolish this failed freeway!

  30. Bad plan. Hope our public servants read comments on theeastsider…

  31. I wasn’t able to make it to the last meeting but I would like to know Caltrans stand on the quiet road surface suggestion. It’s far preferable to the hideous walls.

  32. This is a horrible idea. I live on the hill on the Echo Park side of Allesandro St. and don’t mind the “river” sound of the end of the freeway; sound walls won’t help and will take away the neighborhood feel. And, sound walls are just going to lead to more graffiti in the area – like the Oak Glen overpass that constantly gets tagged, the walls down near Rosebud, the fences down by the construction of the Semi-Tropic property, etc. I moved here years ago fully knowing that the freeway is loud – but let’s not make it worse and uglier than it already is!

  33. I really love the idea of getting rid of the 2 freeway from the area of the 5 altogether!

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