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Army Corps board approves $1.3-billion L.A. River restoration proposal

The Los Angeles River

A discarded shoe lies in the bed of the Los Angeles River near downtown L.A. A plan to restore the river, at a cost of $1.3 billion or more, inched forward Thursday.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

A plan to spend $1.3 billion or more restoring the Los Angeles River and redeveloping nearby land inched forward Thursday as a federal review board agreed to let the proposal proceed.

The Civil Works Review Board of the Army Corps of Engineers unanimously approved the plan, echoing support pledged 14 months ago by Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. The proposal still must get the approval of additional government agencies, as well as the Corps’ head engineer and the U.S. Congress.

The plan’s advance comes even as questions are brewing about who will pay for the restoration, which would transform the concrete-jacketed stretch of river between Griffith Park and downtown L.A. and is expected to take up to a half-century to complete.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said last year that the federal government would split the cost of the project, an arrangement that would put the city on the hook for about $500 million. However, a report issued earlier this year by L.A.'s chief legislative analyst stated that the city’s share of the cost could rise to as much as $1.2 billion.

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Garcetti, who spoke in support of the project before the Review Board on Thursday, said in a statement that the board’s decision “marks an important milestone in our efforts to restore the Los Angeles River.”

Follow @PeteJamison for more news from L.A. City Hall.

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