Assemblymember Friedman Announces Funding for L.A. River Bike/Ped Projects

Assemblymember Laura Friedman secured $10 million for Glendale's planned Garden River Bridge project. Rendering via city of Glendale
Assemblymember Laura Friedman secured $10 million for Glendale's planned Garden River Bridge project. Rendering via city of Glendale

This morning, at a press event along the L.A. River in Glendale, State Assemblymember Laura Friedman announced that she has secured $15 million in state funding for two new bike/ped projects along the river.

Normally, I would be all over a story like this. What’s not to like about $15 million for new bike paths along the river? This will mean better bike connections in a place where my family and I bike often.

Unfortunately, there is a lot not to like here.

Assembly Transportation Chair Friedman – along with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon – is part of the Democratic Party leadership that recently blocked $7.5 billion worth of green transportation funding in Governor Newsom’s proposed budget. That “California Comeback Plan” budget proposal included:

  • $4.2 billion for high-speed rail
  • $2.5 billion for the Transit and Intercity Capital Rail Program (TIRCP) – including $1 billion for transit supporting the L.A. Olympics
  • $500 million for Active Transportation Program (ATP) bike/pedestrian projects
  • $300 million for climate planning/projects

These proposed allocations were blocked by the legislature, delaying various projects, including an extension of the Foothill Gold Line. Theoretically the money could still be approved in a future budget, but the impasse over high-speed rail remains. The conflict doesn’t bode well for the governor signing legislation from these electeds.

That’s right. Assemblymember Friedman was one of the electeds leading the charge to turn down $7 billion for green transportation statewide. Then she went to the press to celebrate $15 million for green transportation in her district.

There are equity issues that need to be highlighted here. The Newsom-proposed half-billion dollars for active transportation would have gone through the ATP process which gives weight to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities. Friedman and Rendon’s $15 million earmarks go to projects in and near Glendale, a city with higher-than-average incomes. Under the above-board ATP process, it is somewhat more difficult to fund bike projects serving relatively well-off communities. The city of Glendale could use other flexible transportation monies – say Metro Measure M local return – to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects, but the city spends these funds on facilities for Glendale’s drivers.

Friedman’s earmarks will go to the following projects:

  • $10 million for the city of Glendale’s Glendale Narrows Bridge. The Garden River Bridge will be located near the L.A. Zoo (at the nearby Griffith Park Ferrarro Soccer Fields.) It will cross the L.A. River, connecting Glendale’s River Walk walk/bike path to L.A.’s river walk/bike path. See SBLA’s 2017 coverage of the planned bridge and Glendale’s project webpage.
  • $5 million for the city of Los Angeles’ Colorado Bridge Undercrossing East Bank River Way Project. This project will create a new bike/ped undercrossing at the Colorado Boulevard on-ramp to the 5 Freeway. This is in the Glendale-adjacent largely industrial northern part of the L.A. City neighborhood of North Atwater.
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This morning’s L.A. River press conference: Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Friedman (speaking) in front of: (left to right), L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks Chief of Staff Anthony-Paul Diaz, L.A. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Glendale Mayor Paula Devine, and L.A. City Councilmember Nithya Raman. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

I look forward to these projects. They will be great places to bike and walk. I also look forward to a day when California’s and L.A. County’s elected leaders unite to support the broad range of investments that are needed for better health, climate, air, and water… but I am not optimistic that this will happen any time soon.

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