Bridge over untroubled waters

CITY HALL — Glendale could eventually be connected to Griffith Park like never before, according to recently released design concepts for a pedestrian bridge over the L.A. River that range from $2 million to $30 million.

The City Council will consider design options for the proposed pedestrian bridge in coming the months to help parks officials secure grant funding for the project.

The bridge is planned as a later phase of the long-awaited Glendale Narrows Riverwalk along the the Los Angeles River, which is set to break ground this summer after years of trying to secure funding and rights-of-way.

The City Council in January allocated $81,351 in grant-funding to conduct community outreach and prepare master plans for the second and third phases of the project, including funding applications.

Cost estimates for the proposed bridge range from $2 million to $30 million, depending on the design, according to six initial concept designs released at a community meeting last week.

At the meeting, city officials gathered input from dozens of residents and project stakeholders on the design options and potential locations for the bridge, which range from closer to south Glendale and Atwater over the Glendale State (5) Freeway, to up near Ventura (134) Freeway junction.

"I think the overwhelming response was simply that they want to be connected to Griffith Park," said Dave Ahern, capital projects manager for the Community Services and Parks Department.

But the project could end up being more than just a overpass connection, with the higher-end concepts including a $30-million suspension bridge that officials said could become an iconic image for the region.

Once the City Council selects a first and second preference for the design and location, Ahern said, department officials will be in a better position to go after funding.

Earlier this year, Councilwoman Laura Friedman said the bridge was an ideal project for federal funding since it would "link an entire community of 200,000 people with the largest urban park in the country."

Residents from Glendale, Burbank and Atwater Village — especially local equestrians and bicyclists — have also expressed support for the proposed bridge.

Joanne Hedge, president of the Glendale Rancho Homeowners Assn., attended last week's public input meeting and said she and other equestrians favor the proposed $5-million bridge option starting near Garden Street because it is the only design that would accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and horses.

"We of course prefer the bridge that would accommodate equestrian traffic," she said. "We have this enormous park, and there are only two ways to get into it on horseback and very few ways to get into it on foot."

Burbank transportation planners have also been tracking the project, which they ultimately plan to connect with a network of bike routes.

"It definitely is going to have an impact on us," said Cory Wilkerson, assistant transportation planner for the city. "And we are trying to make sure that our network connects to whatever ends up happening down there."

FOR THE RECORD: This corrects an earlier version that referred to bridge concepts spanning the I-5. Concepts include other areas along the L.A. River.

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