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The pros and cons of a billion-dollar facelift for the LA River




KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson surveys the gritty beauty of the LA River from the soon-to-be-demolished Figueroa Street Bridge.
KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson surveys the gritty beauty of the LA River from the soon-to-be-demolished Figueroa Street Bridge.
John Rabe
KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson surveys the gritty beauty of the LA River from the soon-to-be-demolished Figueroa Street Bridge.
Opening LA river access widely to the public has been the work of nonprofits and government agencies for years. In 2011, activists were first permitted to lead pilot trips down the river, here shown around the Sepulveda Basin seciton.
Molly Peterson/KPCC
KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson surveys the gritty beauty of the LA River from the soon-to-be-demolished Figueroa Street Bridge.
A bird lands near the banks of the LA River just after a morning of rainfall on November 21.
Grant Slater/KPCC
KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson surveys the gritty beauty of the LA River from the soon-to-be-demolished Figueroa Street Bridge.
The banks of the Anacostia River in Washington DC
Kitty Felde
KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson surveys the gritty beauty of the LA River from the soon-to-be-demolished Figueroa Street Bridge.
Along the banks of the Anacostia River in Washington DC
Kitty Felde
KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson surveys the gritty beauty of the LA River from the soon-to-be-demolished Figueroa Street Bridge.
The Anacostia River in Washington DC is getting better, but still suffers runoff from the frequent rains.
Kitty Felde


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The US Army Corps of Engineers has approved a $1-billion plan to beautify 11 miles of one of the ugliest rivers in the world. Or maybe, since it's LA, we should call it shabby chic.

I went to the soon-to-be-demolished Figueroa St bridge that crosses the river in Cypress Park to meet KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson to talk about the high points of the plan, and some of the potential problems it might cause - like pricing-out current residents of poorer neighborhoods like Frogtown.

Then, I talked with KPCC's Washington DC bureau chief, Kitty Felde, who was standing on the banks of the Anacostia, a river that's been rehabbed to great effect in the nation's capitol, for an idea of what might be in LA's future.