The Los Angeles City Council today approved plans to build the North Atwater Bridge, finding no substantial harm to the environment if construction proceeds on the project. The $6 million suspension bridge would connect cyclists and equestrians in Atwater Village to an existing segment of the Los Angeles River Bikeway on the west bank. The connection would ease access to the vast, open areas and trails of Griffith Park.
"We've been waiting for this bridge for 20 years," said Lynn Brown, vice chair of the Los Angeles Equine Advisory Committee. "Access to Griffith Park is everything."
The bridge enhances the safety of equestrians in the Atwater Village area. Until this bridge is built, risk-taking riders would sometimes cross the Los Angeles River to exercise their horses in Griffith Park. In doing so, horses inevitably slip and fall due to the slippery cement.
Marion Dodge, secretary of Friends of Griffith Park, expressed the organization's support as well, citing the bridge as a connector of communities. "When the freeway came through the area, Griffith Park was separated from Atwater Village. Now, kids from Atwater Village can enjoy the park as well."
The project has been held up as a prime example of what public and private partnerships can accomplish together. The bridge would be named the La Kretz Bridge, in honor of its benefactor Morton La Kretz, who committed nearly $5 million in funds. The balance came from discretionary funds coming from the 4th and 13th council districts, where the bridge would be located, and Los Angeles River funds from the Bureau of Engineering.
At the recent Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River (APHAR) Committee meeting, representatives from the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation (LARRC) and the Bureau of Engineering assured councilmembers of the structure's sensitivity to its environment. Recent concerns the bridge might pose hazards to the bird population were answered with a promise to monitor any bird collisions that might occur and take steps once verifiable data come in.
Should everything go according to schedule, construction should start by spring of next year, according to Jennifer Samson, LARRC project manager. Work should be finished within 8 to 10 months.
Renderings courtesy of the L.A. River Revitalization Corporation.