County Holds Public Meeting on Arroyo Seco Bikeway Project

On June 21, 2005 representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works held a presentation regarding the proposed Arroyo Seco Bikeway at the Los Angeles River Center. The meeting, the first public outreach done on the project since 2001, was called as a result of comments from the Arroyo Seco Foundation and other community organizations regarding lack of outreach and questions from the offices of LA Councilmember Ed Reyes and County Supervisor Gloria Molina.

The proposed bikeway would extend from the terminus of the current concrete pad that runs in the bottom of the Arroyo Seco flood channel for nearly 3 miles from Arroyo Seco Park near York Boulevard to Montecito Recreation Center. The proposed project is broken into three parts. Phase I, which will cost $2.8 million, would extend the in-channel path from Montecito Recreation Center to Avenue 26 where it will exit the flood channel via a ramp. Phase I is the only part of the project that is funded at this time. Unfunded phases include extending the in channel path to Avenue 19, and creating a street grade path at the edge of the channel from Pasadena Avenue to Avenue 26, improving access to the pedestrian bridge at Cypress Avenue. It is unclear when the other two phases will receive funding, as there are limited funding opportunities for bicycle facilities, but a transportation official at the meeting said it would not be before 2009.

Participants in the meeting voiced concerns and endorsements of the project. Opponents to the project, who generally voiced their support for cycling projects, stated that this project falls far short of providing a viable alternative for getting people out of their cars and onto bikes. They cited safety concerns, removal of trees, degradation of the Arroyo Seco stream, and lack of public involvement in the development of the project. Opponents urged the County to go back to the drawing boards and work with other agencies and Arroyo improvement projects to develop a bikeway that would meet cycling and environmental needs, but County official said that if the project does not get moving by September precious funding would be lost. One participant commented that “You (the County) are holding a gun to our heads.” Others argued that the project is a step in the right direction for alternative transportation, and that construction of a bike path in the flood channel is a good use of an under utilized resource. Both sides expressed concern about removal of 127 trees. County officials offered to provide tree maps to participants to help in design, so that hopefully some trees could be saved. County officials also pledged that future improvements to the Arroyo, such as habitat restoration and water quality projects, would not be impeded by the existence of a bike path, but that statement was met with skepticism by several participants.

County officials are now preparing responses to comments offered by individuals and organization to the Negative Declaration prepared for the project. They hope to complete the environmental review process and obtain final approval from the Board of Supervisors in July. Construction would begin in February 2006 to be completed by October.

It is clear that a viable alternative form of transportation in the Arroyo Seco is needed. With the Gold Line, temperate weather, and pleasant topography, the Arroyo has the potential to be a model of transportation alternatives. How that model will be created is up in the air. Would the in-stream bikeway be used by cyclists, where would it connect with the Los Angeles River Bike Path, how will cyclists access downtown, when will funding be obtained to finish the job, what will happen when stream restoration programs take shape? All these questions are of yet unanswered and hold the key to the future of transportation and ecological sustainability in our region.

LA City Council Member Ed Reyes and Supervisor Gloria Molina are in unique positions to provide leadership in the development of that alternative transportation model in the Arroyo Seco.



Arroyo Seco Foundation, PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622 (323) 405-7326