June 29, 2009 § 6 Comments
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 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.
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!
(See additional coverage of the event at Councilmember Reyes’ Blog)