On January 1, the LA River officially started playing in the big leagues as a new state bill took it from "flood control channel" to "navigable waterway." But as the Wall Street Journal helpfully points out, "the 51-mile river's mostly concrete route is lined with industrial yards, freeways and train tracks." But now the Army Corps of Engineers (the crazy bastards who paved the river in the 1930s) and the city are working on an 11-mile joint study of the river that "will offer a handful of options for restoring native habitat, likely creating wetlands along the river and potentially removing or reshaping some of the river's concrete walls." It sounds like the efforts will focus on the area around the Glendale Narrows, the soft-bottom portion of the river that runs through Atwater and by Griffith Park. (The study is called Alternative with Restoration Benefits and Opportunities for Revitalization, or Arbor.) The Corps is set to present ideas to the public in June. One option calls for "reshaping river walls into a more accessible step design," which sounds pretty exciting. Once they select a plan, Congress will be able to authorize design funds "as early as the end of the year."
The river is on the move in general, with new riverside parks underway or newly opened, new bike paths along its banks, and some plans for development in the works. River boosters are hoping that the Corps's work will lead to even more action; the exec director of the LA River Revitalization Corporation calls it "setting the table ... creating a more attractive destination for investment." He very optimistically adds "Hopefully not in too far in the future, if a friend comes to visit you'll ask them, 'Do you want to go to the beach or to the river today?'"
· Los Angeles Reimagines Its Waterway [WSJ]
· On January 1, the LA River Officially Becomes Accessible [Curbed LA]