Los Angeles city officials, including Councilmember Tom LaBonge, broke ground this week on an extension of the Los Angeles River Bike through San Fernando Valley.
Dubbed the Los Angeles Riverfront Park Phase II, the project encompasses two segments on the south bank of the Los Angeles River in Sherman Oaks and Studio City, between Sepulveda Boulevard and Kester Avenue, and between Coldwater Boulevard and Whitsett Avenue. "Inch by inch, we make our Los Angeles River a better place for all," Councilmember Tom LaBonge said in a statement.
The site was earmarked a priority because, though it is technically off-limits to the public due to it being a maintenance access road, people had already been accessing the road through makeshift pedestrian paths. Phase I, a 2/3 mile segment between Laurel Canyon and Whitsett, was completed in 2004.
The $6.5-million project includes a 1/4th acre mini-park with seating, grass and landscaping; construction of sidewalks, walkways, and ramps on Coldwater Canyon and Sepulveda Boulevard; signage; and additional plantings while keeping as many mature trees as possible, according to Neil Drucker, Program Manager at the Bureau Engineering, who oversees improvements from the eastern edge of Studio City until the 405 freeway. He estimates that at present about 10 percent of the Los Angeles Riverfront in his area has been completed.
"The project in and of itself is a small part of the of the Los Angeles River Masterplan that stretches from West San Fernando Valley in West Hills all through Griffith Park. It may not be completed tomorrow -- or 2 or 5 years -- from now, but hopefully someday I will be able to walk, ride a bike or stroll anywhere from West San Fernando Valley to downtown," said Drucker, who lives in West Hills. "It takes an eyesore for many people and turns it into a usable connection for people who want to ride their bikes to work or want a really nice place to recreate along the river."
The work should be completed within a year. In the meantime, nearby residents have been informed of the construction work coming to their neighborhood. Drucker expects little interruption within the neighborhood regular comings and goings, apart from a little dust and noise coming from the construction. The extension of the Los Angeles River Bike Path was funded by Proposition K, a 30-year program that funds recreational and environmental projects. The third Phase is currently in pre-design, and may include segments from Coldwater Canyon to Fulton and Van Nuys to Cedros, on the south side of the L.A. River.