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New L.A. River barrier takes shape in Atwater Village but residents still need to be on guard

worker on top of hesco barrier in atwater

Workers fill temporary river barrier with sand

ATWATER VILLAGE – From the 5 Freeway, it looks like a dark green ribbon has been stretched across the east bank of the Los Angeles River near the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge.  This is the first section of  a sand-filled, flood-control barrier that began taking shape today and will eventually cover three miles between Griffith Park and Elysian Valley. The  barrier is designed to reduce the chances of the river overflowing in Atwater Village and adjacent neighborhoods during the El Niño rains. But residents who live on the other side of the barrier  should not assume they no longer have to worry about water flowing into the neighborhood of Spanish Colonial homes.

“We are reducing the risk but we are not eliminating the risk,” said Rene Vermeeren, chief of hydrology and hydraulics for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles.  Residents should still “know what to do in terms of an evacuation plan,” he said.

The temporary barrier, which is made of wire and a felt-like fabric, will stand three to four feet high along the top of the concrete river channel. That may not seem like that much more protection but it will substantially increase the capacity of the channel to handle more water, Vermeeren said today as crews built the barrier.  The growth of vegetation and build up of soil in the middle of the channel has slowed the flow of the river in the Atwater Village area,  allowing the water to rise faster and increase the risk of overflowing, he said.

This morning, workers began the job of building the barrier south of Glendale Boulevard on the edge of the river bank and only a few feet away from the walls and fences of riverside residences. Work was going at a fast clip, with about 150 feet of barrier being constructed every hour, said officials.  It will take less than a month to build the barrier, which is expected to be dismantled later this spring.

The efforts to bulk up the flood-control defenses along the river comes amid a movement to restore the river and increase opportunities for recreation as well as development along its banks. But the concerns raised by this winter’s expected heavy rains should not undermine interest in restoration efforts, officials said.

Vermeeren and an Army Corps spokesman noted that the $1 billion L.A. River restoration plan now being reviewed by Federal officials would not reduce the capacity of the L.A. River.

hesco barriers in atwater village

The barriers will stretch for about three miles along the river

hesco barrier with bridge in background

The barriers are expected to be removed this spring

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2 comments

  1. These barriers have huge gaps at Los Feliz Blvd and Glendale Blvd to accommodate traffic yet close the only safe crossing of the River at Sunnynook Bridge for bikes and pedestrians. Now the government can predict weather? Unbelievably the horse crossing is the only gap . Cars and horses over bikes and pedestrians! Any walk or biking between Los Feliz .Atwater Village and Silver Lake requires dangerous uncontrolled crossings of freeway on and off ramps and the” Hyperion Freeway”. Bad planning and a waste of money better used on improving the recreation the river in this area used to provide. David Rocket Rowley

    • David,

      Equestrian crossings through Atwater Village and Los Feliz has been blocked as well. Riders are forced to use the same dangerous and uncontrolled crossings.

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