Restoration of the historic Venice canals began Thursday, after four years of debate among lawmakers and residents on how to rehabilitate the area while protecting wetland habitats.
City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter joined public works officials and community leaders at a ground-breaking ceremony for the $6 million effort.
The rehabilitation plan was approved last year by the City Council, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Coastal Commission. Under it, the 87-year-old canal walls will be lined with hollowed-out concrete cylinders, which Galanter said will help preserve more than 12,000 square feet of wetlands.
Sidewalks and pedestrian bridges will be rebuilt. The plan also calls for dredging the waterways and adding a public boat launch, and for landscaping the banks of the canals with a variety of grasses.
The canals fell into disrepair only a few years after they were built in 1905. By 1940, city officials declared them unsafe and closed them to the public, officials said.