Sixth annual River Day highlights a river on fire

The Los Angeles River continues to be scalding hot, and that’s not just the summertime temps of the water. Two big river events in two days this week, the official groundbreaking for the Taylor Yard Pedestrian Bridge, followed by the sixth annual River Day at City Hall.

The city has worked on being “riverly” since — 1988 — according to former Councilmember Tom LaBonge who retired in 2015. It’s been a long road with our community still waiting for promised federal dollars to the tune of $2.6 billion to restore the river’s habitat.

Let’s count down what’s happened since the last River Day. The slogan could be “connect, don’t neglect” as underserved communities regain the connections lost to the construction of a concrete flood control channel:

Taylor Yard Pedestrian Bridge
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, center, and friends broke ground on the Taylor Yard Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, which will connect Elysian Valley to Cypress Park. Once complete in early 2021, the $20 million bridge will be roughly 400 feet long with an 18-foot-wide passageway for cyclists and pedestrians. (Credit Jim Burns)

— Four new and-and-bike friendly bridges to connect communities: Taylor Yard Pedestrian Bridge, North Atwater Village, Red Car Pedestrian Bridge and Verdugo Wash Bridge that will connect Glendale to L.A.

— Friends of the Los Angeles River’s celebrates the 30th annual LA River Clean-up and begins #CrackTheConcrete fundraising campaign. It’s a classic FoLAR campaign that is pro Taylor Yards/G2 River Park and its long-promised habitat restoration and con Casitas Lofts, a 420-unit housing development.

— Opening of Albion Riverside Park in Lincoln Heights.

— $18 million in state funding for a continuous bike path along the river. Remember, this is a 51-mile waterway.

— Last week the Environmental Protection Agency awarded $500,000 to help clean up the polluted soil of Taylor Yard/G2.

— Councilmember David Ryu takes on chairmanship of river committee from Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.

“Some day the LA River steelhead will come back,” Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said at the river celebration, echoing what FoLAR co-founder Lewis MacAdams said for many years to anyone who would listen.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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