Army Corps of Engineers to put up flood-control barriers in L.A. River

A man rides his bike across the Buena Vista Street Bridge earlier this week as a swollen Los Angeles River flows through Lincoln Heights.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received emergency funding to erect temporary barriers along the banks of the Los Angeles River to guard against flooding from future El Niño storms, officials announced Friday.

But the corps still has not received $4.5 million that officials say is needed to clear debris and do other flood-control work in the river. 

L.A. County officials were startled to learn earlier this week that the corps had not obtained the money, which was requested for pre-storm work between the Burbank Western Channel and California 2. 

To help fill the hole in funding, the corps’ Los Angeles district has shifted about half a million dollars that would have gone to other maintenance projects to the L.A. River basin. 


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Col. Kirk Gibbs of the local office said Friday that while $4 million is still needed, the district received an emergency infusion of $3.1 million from headquarters to build 4-foot protective barriers along three miles of the river, from Griffith Park to Elysian Valley.

The measure would increase channel capacity and reduce the risk of flooding, Gibbs added.

“We’re preparing for a worst-case scenario,” he said. “We feel we need to do that, and we owe it to the residents.”


City and county officials praised the emergency funding and the proposed barriers.

“We’re hoping for the best, but we’re going to continue to prepare for the worst,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "... If [the river] floods, there is risk of significant damage, not to mention real and immediate danger to Angelenos.”

“We don’t have to wait for damage,” L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said of the planned flood protection.

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors sent a letter to members of Congress and to the assistant secretary of the Army calling on them to expedite the funding for maintenance in the river basin.


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