Progress on West Valley River Bridges and Bike Path

June 1, 2012 § 6 Comments

Steelhead trout medallion on the new Tampa Avenue Bridge over the L.A. River

I got a chance to bike in the West San Fernando Valley last week, and took a few photos of the Los Angeles River bike path project under construction. It’s a construction site right now, but a lot of the hardscape – new bridges and bridge undercrossings – appears more-or-less done.

The 2.2-mile bike path will extend from the Vanalden Avenue footbridge to Hartland Street (immediately upstream/west of Mason Avenue.) The first phase of the bike path (0.8 mile from Vanalden Avenue to Corbin Avenue) had been projected to be open around October 2012. I don’t know the timeline for subsequent phases, but it seems like the upstream construction is already underway, so the extension from Corbin to Winnetka shouldn’t take a whole lot longer. 

For plenty of background on this West Valley L.A. River Bikeway/Greenway, see L.A. Creek Freak’s earlier articles:

The area I checked out was at Winnetka Avenue, Corbin Avenue, Tampa Avenue and Vanalden Avenue. Here are photos starting at Winnetka moving downstream:

New L.A. River bridge pretty much complete at Winnetka Avenue. All of the bridges in this stretch are, in my opinion, crappy in comparison to the excellent historic bridges that the city is hell-bent on tearing down. In comparison to other, really really boring utilitarian bridges nearby, this one at least has a some modicum of historic and river themed stuff tacked on – nice lighting, a bit of artwork, decorative mini-arches in the railing. It could have been worse… but, frankly, I think it’s still lipstick on a pig.

Close-up of the artwork panel on the Winnetka Avenue Bridge. Visible at the base of the lighting in the photo above.

(One more editorial note here: this bridge was widened [something I really dislike, but won’t rant about right here right now] and the roadway was re-surfaced and re-striped… but the city neglected to the on-street bike lanes that city approved for Winnetka in the first 5-years of the 2010 bike plan… so, if the bike plan approval means anything [and, sadly, it doesn’t until cyclists and communities raise a stink] the city will have to spend additional money to erase the lanes they striped and go back and add bike lanes within the next three years. Sad. Typical. Shows the city engineers prioritize greater car capacity, even when building a bike path.)

View upstream from the Corbin Avenue Bridge. Solar bike path lighting installed. Asphalt area on the left is the entry ramp from Corbin Avenue. To the right is the bike path descending to go below the Corbin Avenue Bridge.

View looking downstream toward the Corbin Avenue Bridge (ugly gray bridge built a couple years ago.) The bridge’s bike path undercrossing is done (going diagonally upward from the bottom left corner), though it still has temporary wooden construction railing.

View downstream from Corbin Avenue Bridge. River bike path undercrossing is on the left.

The newly widened Tampa Avenue Bridge, with panels showing aspects of the natural history of the river. It’s another fairly standard bridge with a bit of decor tacked-on. There are river-themed medallions, historic-theme light standards, and again, some arches in the railing design… though, to me, it looks like the arches are in prison.

View downstream from the Tampa Avenue Bridge. There’s decorative paving below the light, but it was difficult to get a good look at while it was partially covered up by boards during construction. In the distance is the Vanalden Avenue footbridge.

View upstream from the Vanalden Avenue pedestrian bridge. In the middle right of the photo, the new Tampa Avenue Bridge and bike path undercrossing are visible.

Despite my unrelenting antipathy toward Los Angeles’ ugly-ass contemporary bridges, I am actually really happy thiat this project is nearing completion. The bike path will all look a lot better when the landscaping and other features are done, too. I’m looking forward to riding the new bike path! And working to get the path extended downstream and upstream.

Two more unrelated bikey notes that Creak Freaks might be interested in:

  • The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosts their annual Los Angeles River Ride – coming up Sunday June 10th 2012! Various distances to suit beginner, intermediate and hard-ass cyclists. It’s a great way to see and enjoy the L.A. River.
  • The Metro Orange Line Extension, which includes both a bike path and a busway, opens June 30th.  It extends 4 miles from Warner Center to Chattsworth. It’s perpendicular to the L.A. River, crossing it just below Canoga Avenue. There’s no river bike path there yet, but someday   the Orange Line bike path will connect seamlessly with the L.A. River bike path.

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§ 6 Responses to Progress on West Valley River Bridges and Bike Path

  • shawn says:

    Thanks Joe for this great blogpost (and blog in general)! I live right by this “river” on Corbin and really wanted to know more about this project. I think its great what the city is doing (yes its expensive but improving things cost money). I think this stretch if its completed correctly reveals so much potential to the overall greening of the LA river itself. I can imagine a future where there are multiple terraces leading to a de-channelized river that all add up to a truly amazing linear park.

  • Josh Harris says:

    I live about a block from where this stretch of path will end. While I’m excited about it, I’m also shaking my confounded head at how inept/indifferent this city is when it comes to bicycles. Like so many other bike “amenities,” this one falls short of being useful. At least for now, and at least for everyone in my neighborhood, which happens to be where this path begins.

    Again, I live about a block away. But to get to the entrance at Hartland, I have to travel more than a mile. Why? Because of how the river separates at Mason, and because they didn’t extend this stretch to a more logical end point (De Soto … HELLO!) or build a pedestrian/bike bridge to get to my neighborhood.

    So I can risk my life going back and forth on Vanowen (and something I certainly couldn’t do with my 3-year-old on board), or I have to go all the way up to Sherman Way, then down Mason (which has no bike lane or even sharrows) … more than a mile out of my way for a 2.2-mile path.

    In other words, the path ends at a point that is NOT safely accessible by bike. Super.

    Maybe, just maybe, they didn’t reach to De Soto because they’re planning on expanding west. If so, great. But I haven’t found anything on that. From what I can tell, the only expansion will be eastward.

    • Joe Linton says:

      It’s an early phase – so it doesn’t get to everywhere it could/should – yet. Help us get it extended – contact your councilmember and let them know you want more!

  • Cathy says:

    I can find no information on the progress of this bike path. It seems that Winnetka should be open and do not understand why it is not. Can up update this please. Of note: the Vanowen bridge at Mason is now complete and open. Tagging has commenced.

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