Whittier Boulevard is perhaps one of the most recognizable and historic routes in Southern California. Part of State Route 72, and part of the historic El Camino Real, Whittier Boulevard traverses Southern California from Downtown Los Angeles to Brea. In between that route, a portion of Whittier Boulevard runs right through the City of Pico Rivera.
Many cities where Whittier Boulevard runs through take advantage of the major East-West arterial with amenities such as shopping centers, restaurants, and specialty shops. The City of Pico Rivera is no different. Going back to the early 1980s, plans to revitalize Whittier Boulevard began with the construction of the Pico Rivera Plaza, which included retailers Montgomery Wards and Alpha Beta Supermarket. Years later, the Crossroads Plaza was constructed on the eastern side of Whittier Boulevard, included retailers Home Depot, Blockbuster Video, and Max Foods. As businesses have come and gone, the City’s desire to revitalize this famous stretch of road hasn’t. Today, City staff are hard at work, envisioning Whittier Boulevard as the new uptown Pico Rivera.
The proposed Historic Whittier Boulevard Multimodal Revitalization Plan that will ultimately become “Uptown Pico Rivera” will include all of Whittier Boulevard up to the City limits of Montebello to the west and Whittier to the east. The purpose of this project is not only to revitalize “El Camino Real” in the City of Pico Rivera with just pavement improvements, it will also serve as a catalyst to the ever-evolving modes of safer and healthier transportation options that are or will be available in the near future.
Funding has already been awarded for the start of this program. Last summer, the City was awarded over $330,000 from The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant Program.
In addition to the Caltrans funding, other grants have been officially awarded to the City that will help in revitalizing the Whittier Boulevard area. As highlighted in last month’s Profile, the City will receive a $1 million acquisition grant from the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District to acquire the former Montebello Bus Lines Depot from the City of Montebello. This space will be transformed into a passive recreation space called “The PAD” – The Passons Active Depot, which will fit perfectly into the entire Whittier Boulevard project.
Additional grant funding specific to this use and project has also been awarded to fund the Pio Pico Bikeway Extension Project, and a feasibility study for a proposed Whittier Boulevard Bike Bridge project.
Since Whittier Boulevard is such a popular thoroughfare, planned activities to take advantage of Whittier Boulevard include multi-city 5K and 10K runs, local concerts, and other activities that will bring positive attention to our portion of Whittier Boulevard.
The Plan is not only about revitalizing the road but the area itself. Whittier Boulevard has long been seen as an economic gold mine with the opportunity for thriving businesses and housing along this historic road. Once the Plan has been completed and the area transforms into Uptown Pico Rivera, it will be a change for the better. A change that residents will have a say in. Community meetings will be held in the coming months to gather input from residents to help define the look, feel, and atmosphere of the revitalized Boulevard. In the end, Whittier Boulevard will not only entice our local residents to visit and patronize businesses in this new area, but visitors and new business opportunities will come in that will ultimately boost our local economy.
“This is a huge plan for all of us,” said City Manager Steve Carmona. “This could be an economic game-changer for the City. It’s all on paper now, but once completed, this will be something we’re all proud of and something our residents will be proud of.”
While certain portions of this ambitious plan are in the concept stages, by 2025, Whittier Boulevard will have a new look and vibe that will truly define the City of Pico Rivera.