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A Peek at Placing a Park Over the 101 Freeway in Downtown L.A.

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There are already visions of doing it in Hollywood, Santa Monica and Ventura. And Seattle has already done it. But since 2008, thanks to a group of interns and the support of Caltrans and other agencies, there's also a vision to cap a freeway, placing a park above, in downtown Los Angeles.

Today, before the Downtown Art Walk goes into full swing, planners will be showing off that vision to the public in a community meeting and open house. Park 101 District is just a vision right now, but one with extremely detailed plans that could give it a boost once cleared and funded.

The $800 million project would cap a half-mile stretch of the 101 freeway between the L.A. River and Grand Avenue, split into three sections, or sub-districts: river, station and park. A first sub-section would better connect Union Station with Olvera Street and then over the freeway at the cost $20 million.

Once given the clear, Park 101 District could take three years from ground breaking, but securing entitlements from state could take as long as five years. And before that, it's a question of how long it will take to get funding. Some say a 2018 completion is in the sights, but that could be too optimistic.

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No matter that, some think that the park should be completed at least by the time California's high speed rail project begins shuttling visitors to Los Angeles. "How do you want your visitors to arrive in L.A. when high speed rail brings them?" asked Vaughan Davies, the Principal and Director of Urban Design at AECOM, which has been working on the park. He compared it to the current facelift at LAX's international terminal.

Davies says the section of freeway envisioned to be capped is purely surrounded by government property, but the park could spur more private development around the civic center. "I think it would have a ricchoet effect" to adjacent development, he said. "Millennium Park came after downtown Chicago, but it spurred a whole new thing."

Project planners and supporters are hoping the public comes out for today's open house which is from 4 to 6 p.m. at Caltrans District 7, 100 South Main Street, Los Angeles, 90012.

Previously: A Park Atop 101 Freeway in Downtown? Park 101 Open House Set for May