Construction on the Lower Arroyo Seco

July 17, 2010 § 12 Comments

Construction on the Lower Arroyo Seco - below the Avenue 26 Bridge

Here are some photos of some construction (so far destruction?) underway on the lower Arroyo Seco. I first heard about this activity from Highland Park 90042, which asked the question What Are They Doing Down There? I have more-or-less the same question after seeing it myself.

I did a little digging in the county records and found what appears to be the project description – though the information on-line isn’t that descriptive. The Los Angeles County Public Works website includes this listing for a project described as “REPLACEMENT OF ERODED AND DAMAGED REINFORCED CONCRETE LOW-FLOW INVERT AND LEVEE PANELS WITHIN THE ARROYO SECO CHANNEL.”  Here’s the basic info on the project (located here – not directly linkable – search for Arroyo Seco), bid in February 2010:

Arroyo Seco Channel, storm channel repair., Project ID No. FCC0000996, the removal and replacement of reinforced concrete low-flow invert slabs and levee panels within an existing storm channel and the performance of other appurtenant work, Estimated Price $1,200,000 – 1,600,000

According to the county site, the job was awarded to the West Valley Investment Group for $862,616.

Down in the Arroyo Seco now, there are a couple of big construction vehicles breaking up the concete in the center of the concrete channel.

Breaking the central concrete into large pieces

I found it interesting that, in the rubble, there’s quite a bit of fairly large 2-3′ pieces of river rock… likely incorportated from the bed of the Arroyo into the concrete poured (which I believe was a WPA jobs program in the 1930’s – one of the earliests of L.A.’s concrete waterways.)

Rubble cleared away leaving an open trench about 3' deep in the middle of the channel

The water has been shunted around the main low-flow area. It’s flowing in a small plastic-lined side channel along the west edge of the bottom of the site.

Diverted creek waters re-entering the main stream, near San Fernando Road Bridge

I wish that I could speculate that this is a multi-benefit greening project being shepherded by County Supervisor Gloria Molina (whose district it’s located in)… or even reconfiguring the concrete channel bottom for enhanced fish migration on this historic Steelhead Trout stream… but I expect that it’s just spending nearly a million dollars to re-do the slightly-worn concrete at the center of channel. And I don’t recall there being any serious problems with that concrete being damaged. A missed opportunity.

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§ 12 Responses to Construction on the Lower Arroyo Seco

  • Chad says:

    Disgusting waste of money!

  • WALT! says:

    What a waste indeed.

    Interesting note about the stones and WPA program. LAPL’s photo archive has a few photos of the channel being built, it looks like thousands of workers worked without machinery to build this. –such was the practice during the depression, less equipment meant more jobs. In this case, I’ve only seen about six guys working on this at a time. Wonder who’s really getting paid.

  • Gina says:

    Coming home to Pasadena from the 5N to the 110N, I saw this work yesterday and wondered about it. I thought about emailing you a question and lo and behold you have the answers. I was hoping that there might be some sort of conversion to a soft bottom stream going on. The diversion of the flow to a little side channel is interesting. I also thought it interesting that they left their equipment in the channel when not working. I wonder what would happen if a thunderstorm appeared and drenched the San Gabirel Mountains? (It does happen every few years) Would the water “escape” it’s diversion and carry the construction equipment down river? Now that would be something.

    • Joe Linton says:

      yes – I was thinking about those July rains that we’ve been having… I don’t wish for anyone to get injured or worse… but Mother Nature could wash away something down there… soon.

  • Peter Weinberger says:

    Is there rationale for this whatsoever? Is this just government money sitting in an account that needs to be spent? Is there anywhere to complain about not only the waste of money?

    • Joe Linton says:

      The county should tell us their rationale… but I’d guess that the rationale is that even concrete channels wear out and have to be replaced every 50-100 years. Generally that replacement is seen as an opportunity to re-think things a little… perhaps evaluate the inclusion of art, habitat, paths for bicycling or walking, etc.

      To complain, I’d say contact County Supervisor Gloria Molina. The project is located in her district. Email her at molina [at] bos.lacounty.gov

      or write/call/fax:
      Honorable County Supervisor Gloria Molina
      Hall of Administration Office
      856 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
      500 West Temple Street
      Los Angeles, CA 90012
      Phone: (213) 974-4111
      Fax: (213) 613-1739

  • I’ve read that channels, especially underground ones, cost a lot more than just restoring and maintaining natural streams (which basically consists of keeping them in their flood plain and maybe controlling some of the worst invasives). If I recall my CA history correctly the entire system of concrete was basically a big pork barrel project done in a rush rather than Olmstead’s ideas of creating parkways along the flood plains. Unfortunately the sprawly city has pushed up around all the creeks so now it is very hard to reclaim that land even if in the long run it would be cheaper.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      the County is in the midst of sponsoring an Army Corps study for the Arroyo Seco – it’s been going for a few years, and will take a few more to complete – before they come up with their recommendations for anything like naturalization, although other off-channel or low flow projects are more likely. In the meantime, I’m sure the County feels it needs to maintain the system that they have.

      • Joe Linton says:

        It’s unclear to me why the maintenance is needed now (no obvious visual damage to the channel) and couldn’t wait and dovetail with a multi-benefit project soon.

        It seems like, despite the study, the county has made the decision that this area basically won’t ever look any different than it does… no bike path, no naturalization, no widening of the mouth (at the confluence)…

  • Liz says:

    Yikes, what a waste to spend $1 million or more to redo something that needs to be changed, and hopefully removed/rethought. In a few years … they’ll be ripping it out.

    I thought the County was broke, and yet here they are … pouring money down a drain!

  • Tim Kirk says:

    Briar and I saw the same machines doing the same work about 6 to 8 months ago in the Valley, off of Winneka Blvd.

  • […] by some members of the L.A. community on a local blog questioned why there couldn't be some improvements made to the stream, rather than simply […]

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