Arroyo Seco Bikeway Meeting This Wednesday Night
March 17, 2009 § 11 Comments
The L.A. County Department of Public Works recently announced a meeting that will be taking place tomorrow night – at 6pm Wednesday March 18th at the Los Angeles River Center – 570 W. Avenue 26, LA 90065. Here are a few excerpts from the county’s memo:
The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works (DPW) will be conducting a meeting regarding the feasibility of the Arroyo Seco Bicycle Trail project. DPW has concluded that there are no reasonable and feasible options for the construction of the project; therefore, the project is being cancelled.
Description of Work
A 2.6 mile long Class I bicycle trail from just south of Avenue 52 to Avenue 19 was previously proposed.
An overwhelming majority of the comments received during the environmental review of the project were negative. Some of the issues raised were concerns for the safety for the bicyclists, lack of usage due to the alignment of the trail primarily inside the channel, removal of over 150 established trees, acquisition of a large amount of right-of-way, remediation of contaminated soil, placement of additional concrete into the channel bed and the destruction of riparian habitats. Upon consideration of these comments, it was determined that
the original alignment of the trail proposed within the channel could not meet the community’s requirements.
Other alternatives were investigated; however, these alternatives also presented several obstacles. The other alignments required the removal of an even greater number of established trees, access through Heritage Square (a historic preservation site), and a mid-block bicycle crossing on a busy secondary highway.
As it is not possible to create a reasonable and feasible alternative that meets the goals of the proposed project and satisfies the community, it is recommended that this project be cancelled.
These are pretty frustrating words to read. I’ve never heard a transportation department express that there were “there are no reasonable and feasible options for the construction of the project” when it came to tearing out houses to build a freeway… but the prospect of putting a 10′ wide bike path along the already-concreted lower Arroyo Seco doesn’t sound possible for them.
Unfortunately the problem is less with the county than with environmentalists getting on the same page. The existing bike path in the Arroyo Seco (from just below York Avenue to just short of Avenue 43) is at the bottom of a trapezoidal concrete channel. This isn’t optimal – obviously it’s impassable during even a small storm. There are also issues with debris, and visibility… but it does work.
The county initially proposed putting the new bike path (which would extend from just above Avenue 43 down to Avenue 26) along the top of the channel. This would have meant taking out a large number trees planted along the top of the channel. At the time, folks from North East Trees (the group that planted the trees) urged the county to put the bike path in the channel, so it wouldn’t impact so many trees. The county re-drew their plans with the bike path inside the channel. This took a couple years. When they presented the new design, it was mostly in the channel, but included a portion running along the top of the channel to create an access point at the Cypress Avenue Ped Bridge. This alignment was strongly opposed by the Arroyo Seco Foundation as it would add more concrete to the already-concreted channel (read ASF’s critque “More Concrete in the Arroyo Seco Stream???”) In addition, the initial county designs called for taking out plenty of trees along the top of the channel… a 20-30′ swath of trees were being taken out to construct a 10′ wide bike path.
At the time I, as well as Friends of the LA River, the LA County Bicycle Coalition, and many others, supported the new in-channel alignment, but requested that the county re-examine its plans in order to minimize tree removal. The view of the Arroyo Seco Foundation held sway, though, and the county went back and to the drawing board to re-design the project in a way that didn’t add so much concrete to the stream. They went back to the drawing boards to study an alignment that would keep the path at the top of the channel – as they had initially proposed.
So… now they’re saying that they can’t do anything. There’s no easy flawless solution, but I think it’s inappropriate for the county to merely throw their hands up and give up. There are options, and it’s the county’s job to study the environmental impacts of various options. We creek freaks need to negotiate things out and get behind a compromise alignment that we can all support.
I do urge folks to go and attend this meeting to show support for the Arroyo Seco Bike Path.