River Bike Path Groundbreaking in Elysian Valley

June 29, 2009 § 6 Comments

Panorama of Today's Elysian Valley Bikeway Groundbreaking

Panorama of Today's Elysian Valley Bikeway Groundbreaking

This morning was the groundbreaking for the new Los Angeles River Bike Path under construction in Elysian Valley. This is one of the very nicest parts of the Los Angeles River, with plenty of willow trees, birds and fish. The bikeway will be built where plenty of folks already bike and walk unofficially on the existing access road. The road does have uneven surfaces today – dips where rainwater drains, and buckling pavement where the cottonwood tree roots are asserting themselves.

Officially, this is called Los Angeles River Bike Path, Phase 1C. It will extend from Fletcher Drive to Barclay Drive – about 3 miles. L.A. Creek Freak covered the tortured background of the project in an earlier post.

There was a crowd of 40-50 folks at Steelhead Park to celebrate the groundbreaking. Most were city and agency staff, but also present were folks from the neighborhood, the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Commttee, Friends of the L.A. River, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, Los Angeles Conservation Corps River Keepers, and even a TV crew from KABC 7.

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti opened the event, telling his stories of coming to the river as a kid. He said that he hoped that the bikeway would be a step toward putting bicycling on an “even footing” with other modes of transportation. He also looked forward to a future bike/ped bridge which will eventually connect Frogtown with Taylor Yard, and said that he hoped to celebrate the opening of the new bikeway “later this year.” More on the project timeline below.

City Engineer Gary Moore marshals future bike path riders

City Engineer Gary Moore marshals future bike path riders

City Engineer Gary Moore took the podium next, commenting on what a “gorgeous stretch” of river the Glendale Narrows is. Moore credited the Bureau of Engineering’s (BOE) Senior Real Estate Officer Sam Y. Wong for the project’s heavy lifting of securing the 66 individual property easements. Wong took over after the BOE’s venerable Rick Brown retired as the project got underway. The long process of securing complicated right-of-way (including going to court for condemnation of the final hold-out) held this project up nearly 10 years.

The Bureau of Street Service’s Hugh Lee, Department of Transportation’s Mike Uyeno, and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority’s Barbara Romero rounded out the speakers. Romero commented that the MRCA had partnered with the city to incorporate some additional greening and stormwater best management practices.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes

Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes

Action shifted to a pile of dirt placed on the path. Gold-painted shovels and children were rounded up for the photo opportunity. Councilmember Ed Reyes, who had been detained in committee meeting, arrived just in time and enthusiastically addressed the crowd. Reyes has been a longtime champion of both river revitalization and alternative transportation. (Interested party note: I used to work as his deputy from 2002-2004, during which time, I tried to get this project moving.)

Construction should be underway this week, with the most significant part of the project being the construction of an underpass below Fletcher Drive. The project is supposed to take six months to complete, though it was suggested that that is slightly optimistic, and could easily take up to eight months. Pardon the dust, and look for a brand new bikeway opening in January or February 2010!

I hung out a bit with LA BAC past chair Alex Baum and present chair Glenn Bailey, spoke with city bikeways staff, then biked over to Atacor for yummy potato tacos with LACBC, FoLAR and Metro folks!

Breaking Ground on the Latest L.A. River Bike Path

Breaking Ground on the Latest L.A. River Bike Path

(See additional coverage of the event at Councilmember Reyes’ Blog)

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§ 6 Responses to River Bike Path Groundbreaking in Elysian Valley

  • [...] Linton at the Creek Freak blog covers not only yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony, but in a post from last November researched the "tortured" histories of this segment and [...]

  • Nate says:

    Very good coverage Joe! I, of course, take credit for steering us towards those yummy potato tacos.

  • ubrayj02 says:

    This reminds me of this:

    Dedication of Arroyo Seco bike path ca. 1983

  • [...] Metro budget. LAist reports on the new bike hitching posts sprouting around town. L.A. Creek Freak covers ground breaking for the L.A. River bikeway extension. I ran into bees on the beach; an Austin rider flips over a [...]

  • Sue in Los Angeles says:

    Joe, I’m copying my comment to your previous post here, because I want to emphasize the need for pathways for pedestrians as well as for bikes. Walking is already becoming hazardous because of speeding bikes, even with the roots and dips. And do you really want folks to be walled off from the river?

    I like the Elysian bike path idea in concept, except: there will be a concrete barrier between the bike path and the river, which effectively limits or totally excludes access to the “flood channel.’ No going down to the water for any purpose—and isn’t that what the authorities want? Also, the improved trail surface will make it possible for bikes to travel at high speed, which will be hazardous to those of us who use the path as pedestrians, wheelchair users, dog walkers, etc. I suggest having some kind of “gates” to allow access to the water, as well as wide, or separate, pedestrian lanes in addition to the bike lanes.

    • Joe Linton says:

      Sue – I haven’t heard about the “concrete barrier” you mention – does anyone have information on that? My understanding is that the project does include the pipe fencing that is on the upstream portions of the Glendale Narrows bike path (which don’t have concrete barriers.) I, and I expect many others would strongly object to being walled off from the water.

      My personal opinion is that it’s unlikely to be especially “hazardous” to any of the path’s users – at least no more hazardous than the other public spaces in L.A… like streets and sidewalks. I expect that there will likely be a little more usage and hence possibly a little more conflict between various users than already exists today… but we’ll just negotiate and share space. I think that it’s not that difficult for bikes, peds, wheelchair users and dog walkers can share paths… like we all do at the beach.

      Bicyclists can slow down, use our voices or ring our bells to pass slower moving path traffic. Some times of the day, fast-moving bike commuters may predominate; other times pedestrians will set the prevailing speed.

      If we had plenty of space, it would probably be desirable to separate the various modes… but, at this point, there’s not too much right-of-way to work with in Elysian Valley. I think that it’s ok for us all to negotiate the same public space, respectfully.

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