January 26, 2015 – With the expected attendance increase for Universal Studios Hollywood looming in the not too distant future, the NBCUniversal Evolution Plan is designed to ease traffic congestion within and around the Universal City property by adjusting freeway on-ramps and existing roads.
The Universal property is over 100 years old, with many freeways constructed nearly 40 years ago in the Cahuenga Pass to help the traveling public access the San Fernando Valley from Downtown Los Angeles. For any Angelino, the 101 freeway can be home to some of the worst traffic in the area due to the amount of people leaving Universal and the numerous Hollywood venues nearby simultaneously.
In an attempt to minimize street traffic for the local community and keep the cars on Universal property instead of congesting the surrounding streets, Universal has proposed the following adjustments to the area. The maps can be somewhat confusing for the average viewer, but for the daily vehicle traveler within this community, these adjustments are very important.
Cahuenga Blvd is one of the most important changes coming to the area. Indeed, for southbound traffic attempting to reach their home near Barham Blvd, Cahuenga Blvd is an important street to access.
With the following illustration, one can see that traffic congestion on the southbound 101 freeway can increase due to the close proximity of an existing on-ramp and off-ramp. The Evolution Plan would remove the existing Barham Blvd off-ramp from the southbound 101 freeway to help ease the congestion on the freeway to on-ramp traffic only. This would end conflicting traffic caused by the ramp, ultimately increasing freeway speeds near the area.
In response to removing the Barham Blvd off-ramp, there would become a new off-ramp located north at Fruitland Drive.
As you might of heard, there is bitter opposition about this change. Why? In this scenario, local residents who had accessed Barham Blvd before would now have to exit the freeway earlier on their drive home, thereby increasing undesirable street traffic.
To alleviate traffic caused by Universal guests on Cahuenga Blvd and decrease the traffic time for locals, the following illustrations show a 101 southbound freeway on-ramp that connects directly from the Universal Studios Blvd bridge.
The existing on-ramp at Regal Place would also be expanded to allow for more cars to wait for the traffic signal on the ramp itself and not on the street.
For many Universal fans who use Lankershim Blvd as their means of accessing Universal, this next illustration should be part of their current routine. Universal Hollywood Drive is currently being widened to handle more vehicles and make adjustments for the upcoming new 500 room hotel located at the old Fung Lum’s Restaurant location.
The plan also executes many changes for Barham Blvd which runs adjacent to the east side of the Universal property. With lane adjustments at Cahuenga Blvd East and West and an additional lane added for traffic from Warner Brothers Studios up the hill to the 101 freeway, Universal is taking the opportunity to expand upon aging infrastructure surrounding this community.
For those who are aware of a heavy rail system within Los Angeles, the Universal City Red Line Station is a popular stop for those looking for a cheaper alternative than driving the crazy freeways and parking rates littered throughout L.A.
As the Metro Rail has grown and more guests hike across the busy Lankershim Blvd street to a corner which is large enough to keep about 10 people safe from moving traffic, the pedestrian bridge was created as a safer alternative. With escalators and elevators available for guests wishing to drive the classic “candy stripe” trams up the hill, this is a much needed addition for the safety of everyone since the Metro station opened in early 2000. If you would like a closer look at our article featuring the Metro bridge, click here.
Chris Lord is an editor-at-large for Inside Universal.
From his first visit to Universal in 1986 with the original attractions such as A-Team, Battlestar Galactica, and King Kong, Chris admired Universal Studios for its experience of “Riding the Movies.” Chris is a huge JAWS fan and looked forward to the day when he could visit Universal Studios Florida to experience the JAWS ride in Orlando. His dreams came true with his first visit to Universal Florida in 1998. After his visit to Orlando, Chris became an employee of Universal Studios Hollywood in 1998 for the second Halloween Horror Nights event and then went on to become an attraction host for show control and a ride operator for Back to the Future: The Ride and Terminator 2:3D.
You may reach him at email@example.com.