Can a “freeway cap” make Belvedere Park whole again?

East Los Angeles –  A large chunk of Belvedere Park was lost and the park cut in two when the 60 (Pomona) Freeway was built more than 50 years ago.  Echo Park was also chopped in two by a freeway, the 101, and the 5 Freeway looms over a section of Hollenbeck Park Lake.  How to undo this damage? In the case of Belvedere Park, the idea of building a “freeway cap” to reconnect the northern and southern portions of the park has been floated in a county planning document called the East L.A. 3rd Street Specific Plan.

Belvedere is the largest park in unincorporated East Los Angeles, with its nearly 31 acres filled with playing fields, an Olympic-sized pool, skate board park and small lake and a lakeside amphitheater. The southern section of the park is part of the East L.A. Civic Center and sits next to the Gold Line Station.

The planning document, which is devoted to guiding development in the Metro Gold Line corridor, suggest that an approximately three-block section above the 60 Freeway  at Mednick Avenue  could be capped with an elevated platform to support playing fields and ball courts.  The freeway cap, according to the planners, would create new public open space in East Los Angeles and improve pedestrian and bike access between the northern and southern sections of Belvedere:

Today, the park functions as virtually two different parks. Nonetheless, there is an opportunity to reconnect the park land and create additional open space. Here, a freeway cap park would create more park space and provide improved nonmotorized connections between the neighborhoods to the north and south of the freeway.

The freeway cap idea is just that – there’s no budget or money behind it. But the plan’s authors mention that Seattle built a park above a freeway and the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica are also considering similar ideas.


A concept for the freeway cap includes Parking (A), active recreation areas (B & G), playground (C), public art (D), information kiosk (E), paseo (F) | East L.A. Third Street Specific Plan


  1. It’s remarkable to me that we had no problem coming up with billions upon billions of dollars to slice through whole neighborhoods with freeways 50 years ago, but now we want to add a little bit of park space above a couple blocks of one of these freeways and it’ll take another 50 years to get the funding and actually do anything with it. Talk about priorities.

    • 🙁

      So sad east LA got fucked up from the freeways and I can’t believe we let them do that. So sad the freeway in the lake at Hollenbeck park 🙁

  2. What’s remarkable to me is that we continue to build housing, or in this case a park, right next to freeways when there is irrefutable evidence that air quality next to freeways is horrific and laden with bad stuff. Now, we’d like to have additional athletic fields, where people breath deeply, right next to where diesels spew their 2.5 micron particulates.

    • I don’t remember where I read this, but I believe one benefit of a freeway cap park is the ability to (somewhat) filter the polluted air before it’s released into the atmosphere.

      Only problem is where to get the billions of dollars to build these throughout LA… there’s probably more ROI for the taxpayer, if we build something like this in Hollywood, Downtown or Santa Monica (places zoned for dense urban development.)

      • studies have shown that air within 1/2 mile of the freeway is significantly worse. This is due to the distance it takes particulates to settle out, primarily. You’d have to have a pretty darn big cap and ginormous filters to account for that large of an area…

        However, if you could cap the whole entire freeway, imagine how much land that would free up! (yeah, yeah, I know the whole money thing)

        • Yeah, that would be ideal… also, it’s worth mentioning most of these communities were built up long before the interstates were shoehorned through them (not entirely sure about ELA, but certainly most of the basin.)

          In retrospect, we never should’ve built the interstates through the center of American cities, but around the periphery (like they do in Europe.)

          Most urban planners agree that any gains in regional travel times have largely been offset by huge declines in quality of life and property values for these neighborhoods and business districts (whereas cities that never made the same mistake; as well as those that have removed highways, or invested in rail instead, continue to see money pour into the local economy, hand over fist.)

          I imagine one day in the next 50-100 years we’ll be talking about pulling a few of these freeways out at the root (110 through downtown comes to mind as a prime spot for replacing with a high capacity arterial street… can you imagine the skyscraper bonanza that would ensue?)

  3. Another similar local precedent is Memorial Park in La Canada:


    I wasn’t around at the time, but it appears that when the 210 was run through LCF, it bisected a park, so a cap was put over the freeway at that point and now, from ground level, you have no idea that you’re above a freeway. But the cap acts to join the halves of the park that were cut by the freeway.

  4. Getting out of here

    Wow. There is one of these in Dallas already (Klyde Warren Park). LA is now taking design cues from Texas – it’s sad.

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