La Cañada trail upgrade gets steeper

It turns out the $157,000 fix for the Flint Canyon Trail is just the beginning.

City officials found out this week that the cost to fully repair erosion on the trail may add up to as much as $4.5 million and involve several state agencies. While the city is prepared to go ahead with a $157,000 fix to shore up the trail as it nears the Foothill (210) Freeway, it is also looking for help with the long-term safety of the trail.

“We’re not going to abandon that trail, we’re going to minimize deterioration,” Director of Public Works Edward Hitti told the City Council on Monday. “It may become a more regional issue. Lots of agencies will benefit from stabilizing the trail.”

The Flint Canyon Trail is part of the city’s 12-mile loop trail and connects to Pasadena and Angeles National Forest hiking and horse trails.

The troubled portion is atop a steep slope above Flint Wash, just west of the Foothill (210) Freeway. The city, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Los Angeles County recently came up with a total of $157,000 to shore up the hillside beneath that stretch of trail, but the long-term fix may mean rehabilitating the stream bed and perhaps doing work in the 210 right-of-way.

City officials say a complete repair job would require a full environmental review and permits from the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, as well as coordination with Caltrans.

Officials estimate it will cost about $1 million to design the project and another $3.5 million to do the work.

City Manager Mark Alexander said it is likely that the city can win grants to help cover the expenses, but that the city will have to invest around $250,000 to put together the reports necessary to pursue the grants.

The City Council asked city staff to work with local trails advocates on a white paper outlining the best options for the trail.

Separately, the council voted 5-0 to move forward with the previously approved interim repair project.

City Engineer Ying Kwan said that although the interim repairs will minimize erosion for now, the frequency and severity of rainstorms will determine how long they last.

City staff presented the council with the two likely alternate routes for trail users, should the trail need to be closed due to construction or because it becomes unsafe.

Both routes would take hikers and riders along Berkshire Avenue, under the freeway and along Oak Grove Avenue before rejoining the trail system in Pasadena’s Hahamongna Watershed Park.

Mary Barrie, a longtime trails advocate, said taking horses onto the roads is a dicey prospect for equestrians.

“We rode that first alternative when the reinforcement for freeway was going and it was terrifying,” she said. “It’s very loud under freeway and horses get scared.”

Barrie said the Flint Canyon Trail is integral to the city’s trail system and that trails advocate Liz Blackwelder — namesake of the “Liz’s Loop” trail — worked hard to make it a reality.

“Liz spent 10 years to keep that trail open,” Barrie said. “It’s part of the rim of the valley, it’s not just part of the loop… we need to find a solution.”


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