River Bike Paths Coming to Elysian Valley and Reseda
November 9, 2008 § 11 Comments
Next year, the city of Los Angeles will begin construction on two new segments of the Los Angeles River bike path. The bikeways in Reseda and Elysian Valley are expected to be completed in 2011.
Currently there are only two bikeway segments completed on the 32 miles of the Los Angeles River within the city: the Glendale Narrows bikeway (4.5 miles – from Riverside-Victory to Fletcher) and a portion of the Sepulveda Basin bikeway (about 0.2 miles riverfront miles in over 10 miles of park bike paths – on both sides of the River at Balboa Boulevard.) Additionally, outside the city of Los Angeles, there are 17 miles of county bikeway along the lower Los Angeles River (from Atlantic Boulevard in the city of Vernon to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach.) Shameless plug alert: Impeccably thorough bikeway information for all eleven completed bike paths on the Los Angeles River and its tributaries is available in the guidebook Down by the Los Angeles River (Wilderness Press 2005) written by one of your friendly neighborhood creek freaks.
West San Fernando Valley Segment:
The city of Los Angeles has planned a 2-mile segment of the Los Angeles River bikeway from Mason Avenue to VanAlden Avenue in the west San Fernando Valley. The bikeway will be on the south bank of the river and will include grade-separated underpasses at Vanowen Street, Winnetka Avenue, Corbin Avenue, and Tampa Avenue. This bikeway project is being done in conjunction with bridge retrofit projects at Tampa, Winnetka, and Vanowen.
The initial phase will include just the Tampa Avenue Bridge. The approximately 0.8-miles bikeway will extend from Corbin Avenue to Vanalden Avenue adjacent to the Westfield Promenade mall. Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2009, and won’t be done before late 2011. The construction is estimated to take 20 months, but is not permitted to proceed inside the river channel during the wet weather season.
The bulk of the bikeway project funding is from the Metro call for projects. In addition, the city received about $2M in Proposition 50 (state park bond) funding to enhance the bikeway with landscaping, a water quality bioswale, a planter wall, interpretive signage, and even fitness stations to help bicyclists warm up before their ride.
Elysian Valley Segment:
Officially, this 2.7-mile bike path is called Phase 1C of the Los Angeles River bikeway. It extends from Fletcher Drive to Barclay Street. That’s from just above the 2 Freeway to nearly the 110 Freeway. The stretch currently has an unimproved access road used unofficially by bicyclists and pedestrians every day, though the surface is uneven and there are about a half-dozen large dips where street ends drain directly into the river. The old asphalt road is also damaged from the roots of adjacent cottonwood trees.
The project will extend the existing 4.5-mile Glendale Narrows bikeway to an uninterrupted total of 7.1 miles. It will include an undercrossing at Fletcher Drive, resurfacing, and lighting.
In 1999, the city of Los Angeles applied for and received Metro Call for Projects funding for the Elysian Valley bikeway. The project has been delayed by legal troubles due to a complicated antiquated easement issue. The Elysian Valley stretch is under a 1920’s era LA County Flood Control District easement. The limited easement would only allow for flood control projects, and, according to city attorneys, was not sufficient for the construction of a bike path. So, even though owners had already seen their property taken away for river channelization many decades ago, the city had to approach 66 individual property owners and negotiate transportation easements. Most property owners accepted the city’s initial compensation offers, but one property owner held out and took the city to court.
In January 2008, in Rabie v. City of Los Angeles, the court’s verdict was that the city had to pay Mr. Rabie $7,000 for the easement. This amount was only a little above the city’s last offer of $4,000, and much less than the $200,000 that Rabie was demanding. This verdict allows the bike path project to move forward to finalizing design.
The city Department of Transportation is currently finalizing a lighting plan that will minimize risks of copper theft that have plagued other bikeway lighting installations. The final designs are anticipated to go out to bid in January or February 2009. Construction is expected to start in July 2009 and the path is projected to open in January 2011.