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Sunset Strip getting its first repaving in 75 years

December 30, 2009 |  5:08 pm


Along the Sunset Strip, the 75-year-old pavement could tell some incredible stories about Hollywood through the ages.

“There’s probably chewing gum spit out by Jim Morrison in front of the Whisky a Go-Go,” West Hollywood Councilman John Duran said Wednesday. “Don’t tell anybody or they’ll want to go pick it up.”

The Sunset Boulevard strip has not been repaved since the 1930s. So it’s possible there may be gum deposited there by movie stars who once frequented the strip, such as Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo or even regal Shakespearean actor and unlikely gum-smacker Sir Laurence Olivier.

On Monday, West Hollywood will begin giving the Sunset Strip — its roadway and sidewalks -- its first face-lift since it was converted from a dirt road. City officials and business owners say they hope the touch-up will not only spiff up, but also help enliven, a boulevard that has been challenged in recent years by outside competitors and the tattered economy. 

“It’s the heart of rock 'n’ roll,” said Mikeal Maglieri, owner of the Whisky a Go-Go and the Rainbow Room. “This is sort of a revitalization in tough economic times. I think it’s good for business. It’s a face-lift. It’s a rejuvenation. It needs to be done.”

Donn Uyeno, the project manager in the city’s engineering division, said the Sunset Strip has held up remarkably well given how long it has gone without being repaved. It’s a concrete road, which has given the street a strong base. And because it’s on a hill, water rolls downhill, which keeps it from eroding the pavement as much as it might otherwise.

Still, that has only slowed the aging process, not stopped it. The city plans to grind away the top two layers of the roadway and install rubberized asphalt.

“We’re going to use ground-up tires that were just filling landfills, and the sound of the tires on the pavement will be a lot quieter,” Uyeno said. “When cars pass concrete, any time the tires roll over a crack or a panel, you hear the noise of the tire.

The city will also replace about one-third of the sidewalk and make existing sidewalks more pedestrian-friendly. Districts for flowering, palm, magnolia and shade trees will be created.

Trees that have grown for so long that they’ve cracked the pavement will be replaced with others.

--Hector Becerra

Photo: The Roxy on the Sunset Strip. Credit: Los Angeles Times