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New L.A. River Bridge Will Connect Atwater Village to Griffith Park

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A $6 million suspension bridge that would link equestrians and bicyclists in Atwater Village to 56 miles of horse trails in Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River Bikeway is headed to the City Council after winning approval today from the Board of Public Works.

If approved by the council and Mayor Eric Garcetti, the bridge would provide a path for equestrians, pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the Los Angeles River, connecting the Atwater Village community and equestrian stables to a bike path and a major park.

The project is part of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan approved in 2007, and a form of it has been on the books since the 1990s, according to Jennifer Samson, a project manager at the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp., a nonprofit group set up in 2009 by the city to fundraise for the project.

The project recently received a $5 million commitment from Mort La Kretz, who also donated money to the 3.2-acre La Kretz Innovation Campus in the downtown Arts District that broke ground last month.

The remainder of the funds came from AB 1290 discretionary funds from Councilman Tom LaBonge's Fourth District and the 13th Council District.

People riding horseback now ford the river to make it across, so the bridge would provide a safer passage, said 13th District Councilman Mitch O'Farrell.

It would also connect the newly expanded North Atwater Park, which included the revitalization of a creek, to Griffith Park and the 6,000-mile Los Angeles Bikeway, O'Farrell said.

"We are reaching our full vision one improvement at a time," O'Farrell said, adding, "now all three of these major elements," including Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River bike path "will be connected."

LaBonge, who shares the proposed project site with O'Farrell, said the bridge would be a "gigantic plus" for the city and connect the numerous stables on the Atwater Village side to miles of Griffith Park horse trails.

LaBonge said La Kretz's donation, which helped get the project going, was a "tremendous gift" to the city.

The proposed steel bridge is being called the La Kretz Bridge after its benefactor and would be 302 feet long and 38 feet wide, and feature a fan- shaped pattern.

If approved, the corporation could begin construction work at the end of summer, then donate the bridge to the city when completed.

O'Farrell spokesman Tony Arranaga said Council President Herb Wesson has not assigned the proposed project to a council committee, but it would likely be sent to the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee chaired by O'Farrell.

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