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After years of a ballooning budget, $16M LA River horse, bike, walkers bridge breaks ground

A rendering of the North Atwater bridge that will open in late 2019 shows it spanning the Los Angeles River between Griffith Park and Atwater Village.
A rendering of the North Atwater bridge that will open in late 2019 shows it spanning the Los Angeles River between Griffith Park and Atwater Village.
LA County Regional Park and Open Space District

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A new bridge over the Los Angeles River broke ground in Atwater Village Monday to provide an easy connection to Griffith Park for all modes of transportation — except cars. 

Once the 325-foot long bridge opens in late 2019, horses, bikes and pedestrians will have a new way to travel between the stables, hip shops and restaurants of Atwater Village and the trails and green space of Griffith Park.

The North Atwater bridge is one of three bike and pedestrian bridges planned to open over the L.A. River in coming years. Other bridges will cross the river in Glendale and Frogtown.

All three are a key part of plans to revitalize the L.A. River and make it a center for recreation.

Where will the Atwater bridge be located?

The bridge will span the river from North Atwater Park at Chevy Chase Drive on the east side, lead into Griffith Park near the merry-go-round and connect with the L.A. River Bike Path.

How much will the project cost?

The total budget is $16.1 million, paid for with a combination of public and private dollars.

Officials originally proposed the bridge in 2011 with no cost to taxpayers, to be paid for with a private donation from developer Morton la Kretz.

But as designs advanced, the budget for the project tripled, so the state and city of Los Angeles stepped in to close the gap with $3.6 million in state funding, $6.9 million from the city and $3.8 million from la Kretz.

What will the bridge look like?

The bridge will have a cable-stayed design, meaning it will be supported by a fan of cables radiating down from a central pylon, giving it a striking sail-boat like appearance. It will have two separate decks — one for horses and another for bikes and pedestrians.

The planned North Atwater bridge will feature two decks — one for equestrian use, the other for pedestrian and bike traffic.
The planned North Atwater bridge will feature two decks — one for equestrian use, the other for pedestrian and bike traffic.
LA County Regional Park and Open Space District

Why build two decks and separate horses from bicyclists and walkers?

An existing bridge upriver has spawned ongoing conflicts between cyclists and equestrians, leading the city of Burbank to ban the bikes, which horse riders say can spook the animals. 

The aim of all three bridges is to integrate L.A. River more fully with adjoining neighborhoods and recreation opportunities in Griffith Park.