L.A. River project in Glendale clears final hurdle

A revamped walkway along the Glendale stretch of the Los Angeles River has apparently cleared the last of its bureaucratic hurdles, and construction is now expected to begin this summer.

The Glendale Narrows Riverwalk project, which has been planned for more than a decade, received concept design approval from the City Council in 2006, but has faced several roadblocks in reaching the construction phase.

“It’s a complicated project because there are a lot of stakeholders,” said Sonia Nicholson, project manager with Northeast Trees, the nonprofit that is designing and building the walkway. “It takes a while to get everybody on the same page.”

The project was put on hold in February when the state froze a $1.1-million grant because of the budget crisis. When the funding was released, the walkway was further delayed by protracted negotiations with DreamWorks to gain access to a 15-foot strip of land along the studio’s border.

With both hurdles now cleared, project officials say the project can move forward.

The DreamWorks easement was finalized last month after more than a year of legal review.

“It’s exciting,” Nicholson said. “I’m looking forward to putting something in the ground after all this time.”

The first phase of the project — which will create a half-mile, 12-foot-wide paved path along the Los Angeles River channel — is expected to begin construction in July and take a year or less to complete, officials said.

It is part of a larger regional plan to connect jurisdictions along the river with a consistent river walkway.

The pathway will include revamped landscaping, interpretive signs and better access for pedestrians and bicyclists. It will also include two small park areas and an equestrian area.

Dave Ahern, capital projects manager for the Glendale Department of Community Services & Parks, said the walkway will open up a new recreational opportunity for residents.

“It’s been secluded for so long that most folks aren’t familiar with it,” he said.

City officials have also begun planning for the second and third phases of the Glendale Narrows Project, which would extend the trail to the east and south and include a bridge connecting the walkway to Griffith Park.

While the later phases do not yet have funding, officials have said the outreach and planning will help pave the way for the project’s completion once funding is secured.