Op-Ed: Bridge option could be an opportunity

Residents from the Rancho, Grand Central and Pelanconi neighborhoods were introduced March 20 to Councilman Ara Najarian's smart proposal that addresses the issue of the unsafe Doran rail crossing while also enhancing the city's Riverwalk Park proposal for a recreational bridge between Glendale and Griffith Park. Surprise guest Najarian spoke following a rail crossing and “quiet zone” update by public works director Roubik Golanian at a community meeting the three areas hosted on local matters.

Najarian's well-received alternative to four complex Metro proposals is the most attractive, but with any project of this magnitude, there are details to be considered. One is the notion of linking Doran's mostly industrial traffic to Griffith Park that would dump vehicles onto Zoo Drive to access the westbound 134 Freeway or area cities. There would likely be adverse impacts on this narrow park road that's home to the Autry National Center, Los Angeles Zoo, picnic grounds and riding trails, and is used by joggers and cyclists. In the mix is a city of Los Angeles project slated to begin in spring 2015 to widen and retrofit on the downriver side the Riverside Drive Bridge connecting Griffith Park and Zoo Drive to Glendale that will include safe cyclist and pedestrian features.

As for the Doran linkage to the Fairmont flyover for 134 east- and westbound drivers, this costly and underused ramp built for Disney creative campus commuters could finally see more usage, but will need traffic management concerns by Fairmont and area property owners addressed. More details are needed on how the bridge would access the north- and southbound Golden State Freeway, currently undergoing a lengthy Caltrans HOV-lane widening that includes the Los Angeles River overpasses and scores of reconfigured on- and offramps.

With the councilman's suggestion that the bridge project could tap High Speed Rail funds due to a “sustainability component” that includes pedestrian and cyclist uses, it sounds a lot more sensible and comprehensive than the Metro pitches. As for bridge equestrian access between Glendale and Griffith Park, long needed by area equestrians, this would require our parks unit to modify what is now a river pathway reserved for cyclists and pedestrians in order to accommodate riders from Riverwalk's Phase I west trailhead equestrian facility. It remains to be seen how the park's Phase III from the 134 downriver to the city's border at Los Angeles will accommodate folks including riders from Atwater Village who also need a bridge.

All told, though, the future looks brighter with creative alternatives such as this one!

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JOANNE HEDGE is a Glendale resident. She is president of the Glendale Rancho Neighborhood Assn., but the opinions she expresses here are her own, not the association’s. She can be reached at hedgegraphics@earthlink.net.

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