A $6-million, 302-foot bridge that would connect Griffith Park to Atwater passed a key Los Angeles committee this week — a move that has Glendale City Council members split on whether they should scrap their plans for a similar bridge.
The Los Angeles Board of Public Works approved the 38-foot-wide steel North Atwater Crossing Project on Wednesday, but the bridge — which could serve equestrians, pedestrians and bicyclists — must still be approved by the L.A. City Council.
The 302-foot crossing, which would be built about 1.5 miles south of where Glendale had planned to put its bridge, had some Glendale council members questioning the need to build another.
"I don't think we'd have the need for a second bridge," said Councilman Ara Najarian, whose position was echoed by Councilman Dave Weaver, who hasn't been an ardent supporter of the bridge concept to start with.
Plans for Glendale's version of a bridge are still being worked out, and a cost estimate has yet to be determined. But it has long been planned as the third phase in the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, a decade-in-the-making project.
The first phase — a $2.1-million project that includes horse facilities, park areas and a half-mile trail along the Los Angeles River that begins near Paula Avenue and Garden Street — opened in December. Glendale has a $975,000 state grant for the second phase, which would extend the riverwalk from Flower Street to the Verdugo Wash, but no money has been secured for the final bridge connection.
The bridge segment has been viewed as an important link for people who live east of the Golden State (5) Freeway, where parks are a rarity, to the roughly 4,300 acres of open space at Griffith Park in L.A.
Despite the L.A. plans, Glendale council members Frank Quintero and Laura Friedman said their constituents still need their own crossing.
"We don't want to be redundant…but we need to make sure our residents can get [to Griffith Park] from Glendale," Friedman said.
Los Angeles officials said their bridge from North Atwater Park — which won't cross the 5 Freeway — shouldn't prevent Glendale from moving forward with its own project.
"Every good road has great crosswalks," Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge said in a statement.
Jennifer Samson, real estate project manager for the L.A. River Revitalization Corporation — a nonprofit founded by the city of Los Angeles to work on proposed river projects — said her organization would like to see the L.A. City Council approve the North Atwater Crossing Project in the coming weeks and begin construction before the end of the summer.
"There are a lot of plates spinning," Samson said.
Glendale's Community Services & Parks Director Jess Duran said his department plans to request building proposals from private firms for bridge designs in the coming months.
Funding for the Glendale project, which would cross over the 5 Freeway at an undetermined point near the Verdugo Wash, is estimated to cost between $2 million and $30 million, depending on the design.
Funding for Los Angeles had been nonexistent until developer and philanthropist Mort LaKretz pledged $5 million. The rest is set to come from state grants funneled through the offices of Los Angeles council members and Mitch O'Farrell and LaBonge.