On Thursday March 7th, the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors approved $89,000 for the first step in what would be the “Expo Greenway” (Greenway) project near the Westwood Station of the Expo Line. The Expo Greenway project would transform the area between Westwood Boulevard and Overland Avenue adjacent to the future bikeway and rail project into a sustainable urban greenway that would provide a corridor of native species, a stretch of open space, and a place where rainwater is sustainably moved back to the ground.
The $89,000 will be used for the construction of culverts beneath the Expo light rail tracks that are essential to the Expo Greenway. A culvert is a drain or pipe that allows water to flow under a road, railroad, trail, or similar obstruction. While it is indeed good news that the culverts are funded, without future commitment from either the City of Los Angeles or the Construction Authority for the rest of the Greenway project, it could be a case of constructing something with limited use.
The Greenway is a favorite project of environmentalists and Expo advocates, especially ones on the Westside. The Expo Greenway website is filled with supportive quotes from Neighborhood Councils, national environmental groups and politicians.
The Greenway concept for this portion of Expo has gained steam in the last couple of years. Last year, the Greenway was added to the list of the parks in the Mayor’s 50 Parks Initiative. The Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation’s Watershed Protection Division wants to build two streams on the Greenway to help clean Ballona Creek and comply with the Clean Water Act. The culverts will connect the two streams. Council Member Paul Koretz’ office continues to push for complete funding to build and operate the Greenway.
The project has been a crusade of Jonathan Weiss, a long-time bicycling advocate and member of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. Dean Howell wrote a thesis on the project for the UCLA Extension Landscape Architecture Program.