Celebrating 70 years of KTTV: History of the four-level interchange

As we continue our KTTV, FOX 11 commemoration of the most memorable stories we've covered over the past 70 years.

1953 - the Downtown Los Angeles four-level interchange is open for traffic. It was actually finished the same year KTTV went on the air in 1949.

By all accounts it was "unusual". Instead of being a spread out cloverleaf it was constructed as a "stack" because of the surrounding geography and nearby buildings. It's been called the first "stack interchange" in the world.

Listen to Mr. Traffic talk about car culture in this What The Hal Podcast:

The whole goal of this exchange was to connect the 101 and 110 and pave the way for transitions to other freeways like the 5.

But it wasn't without a cost--thousands of people displaced-- millions of dollars in construction. At the time of construction--it was the most expensive half mile of road--ever built.

As we drive the interchange Kenny Morse, also known as Mr. Traffic (for his comedy traffic school background) says, "So, here we come up to the beginning of the four level where you have a choice of left... the 10 east. 5 south or the 60 east. Middle is Pasadena. And, right is to go the the 110 south."

We talked about lots of things including the early perceptions that the interchange would make it possible to get places in LA in 20 minutes. Morse says, "And, you could that was absolutely correct."

But, as California's population exploded so did its car population and our state's car culture caught fire and spread across the country! Morse says, "California was just a leader in the car culture and, cruising has always been a Southern California lifestyle... memorialized in such movies as American Graffitti and American Hot Wax."

Morse adds, "Making peoples lives better was the goal of the engineers making traffic flow better. Getting us home to our wives and families just a little bit earlier.

That was the goal of all of this. "Efficiency." And, despite whatever traffic we face, Morse says the four-level helps.