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LA trying to get Waze traffic off one of the nation’s steepest streets

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Residents say navigation apps have brought too many vehicles to precarious Baxter Street

View up Baxter Street
Baxter Street will become a one-way westbound street between Allesandro and North Alvarado streets.
Google Maps

Los Angeles officials are trying to reduce traffic on Echo Park’s Baxter Street in response to resident concerns that navigational apps like Waze are directing more drivers onto the thoroughfare.

Baxter Street has a 33 percent grade, according to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, making it one of the steepest streets in Los Angeles and the U.S. That makes it difficult for some drivers to navigate. The agency has observed “increased vehicular volume” on the road in recent years, and an uptick in crashes.

In a statement, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell says he shares the concerns of residents that drivers are increasingly using “narrow, hillside residential streets” like Baxter to sidestep traffic on busier thoroughfares nearby.

Starting as soon as this week, LADOT will divide up the eastern portion of Baxter Street into a pair of one-way thoroughfares going in opposite directions. The stretch of road between Allesandro Street and North Alvarado Street will be one-way going west, while the segment between North Alvarado Street and Lake Shore Avenue will be one-way in the eastern direction. The rest of the street (between Lake Shore Avenue and Avon Street) will remain as a two-way road.

The intersection of Baxter and Lake Shore will also become a four-way stop, and right turns onto Baxter from Alvarado will be off-limits between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The latter measure may be an effort to keep Waze and similar navigational apps from directing drivers onto the street; other cities have added turn restrictions on residential streets to prevent these services from recommending them to users.

Other changes are planned for Fargo Street, which runs parallel to Baxter and is nearly as steep. It will also become a one-way road between Allesandro and North Alvarado streets, with traffic restricted to westbound drivers. Tiny Cove Avenue will become one-way in an eastbound direction.

The street shakeup won’t be long in arriving. LADOT staff will start installing new signage and pavement markings in the neighborhood on Tuesday morning.