Army Corps of Engineers goes for the bigger LA River fix

la-river-metgro-cars.jpgLos Angeles River from Elysian Park. LAO photo.

After being lobbied by Mayor Eric Garcetti and river activists, the Army Corps of Engineers said it would recommend an ambitious $1 billion makeover of 11 miles of the Los Angeles River upstream from downtown. There are some pretty cool visions for what the river's stretch through Atwater Village and Elysian Valley, and beside Griffith Park and Elysian Park, could become. But the federal recommendation doesn't provide any money. About half would have to come from Congress, and about $500 million from local sources. Garcetti said he's confident the money will be found.

The selection of "alternative 20," one of several options available to the Corps, was pushed by Garcetti in an online petition and several trips to Washington. "I personally want to thank President Obama for listening to me many times on this," Garcetti said Thursday.

This remake of the concrete river channel into a more natural and inviting feature of the city
has long been a dream of Lewis MacAdams, the force behind Friends of the LA River. He issued a joint statement with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation.

After unprecedented cooperation by advocates for the Los Angeles River and with tremendous leadership by Mayor Garcetti, we are beyond thrilled with today’s announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers. The adoption of ‘Alternative 20’ will hopefully mean over a billion dollars of investment in the communities along the River and in its ecological restoration. A truly historic day.

This ambitious plan will bring a new wave of activity to the LA River. With an investment from the city as well as the federal government, the 11-mile stretch of the river will undergo a complete transformation. The plan will restore the river’s habitats, bring open space to an
underserved area of the city, and create a vibrant public space that residents can use for hiking, cycling, and other activities.

Today’s announcement also lights the way to the removal of 6 miles of concrete from the Los Angeles River and the restoration of connections in our river ecology that haven’t been seen in 75 years. It’s a step towards turning Los Angeles’s eyes back upon the mighty river that runs through it.

Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation jointly extend our profound gratitude to Mayor Garcetti for his leadership on this issue, and we salute the community members and organizations that worked so tirelessly to make this happen. “Everyone who came to a cleanup, who signed a petition, and who helped raised the funds for the Army Corps of Engineers to study this issue is part of this victory today and will be part of a restored Los Angeles River tomorrow,” said Lewis MacAdams, Co-Founder and President of Friends of the Los Angeles River. “All of us will need to get on board for the next part of this journey — navigating this decision through the appropriations process, and realizing our vision of a greenway from the mountains to the sea.”

“This is a great victory for Mayor Garcetti and the people of Los Angeles and brings deserved attention to the LA River as a significant regional and national resource,” said LARRC Board Chair Brian Moore. “It recognizes the vision and hard work of the Mayor and the many river groups who had the dream that the river could be more than just a flood control channel, but serve recreational, environmental, and economic needs too. This is the greatest thing to happen to the river since it was paved over.”

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