The story of the 2016 El Niño is pretty well known at this point. The massive meteorological event was predicted to soak all of California with steady rains throughout the entire winter season. Los Angeles was ready for the worst, busying themselves in late 2015 with preventative measures aimed at softening the blow.
In reality, Northern California got its share of rain, but down here in LA, not so much. But, boy oh boy, were we ready for rain! Months later, one element of over-preparation continues to annoy the neighborhoods surrounding an LA landmark.
When it comes to flood risk, the LA River is one of the city’s main culprits. With climatologists warning of months of steady rains to come, it seemed likely at the time that the river, a flood channel itself, could overflow under the strain of all that water. To increase its capacity, the Army Corps of Engineers installed over $3 million worth of temporary flood barriers along three miles of the LA River near Griffith park.
In doing so, several portions of the popular LA River bike path and equestrian trails were blocked off completely from use. For months, bicyclists took winding detours and access to several horse stables was cut off completely, but it was a small price to pay for the safety of the neighborhoods surrounding the river. Besides, the barriers would come down in the spring when the threat of flooding subsided. Now, as summer approaches, the Army Corps of Engineers is just now beginning to remove some of the flood barriers. They hope to have them down by mid-June.
After the barriers are removed, the LA Department of Transportation needs another two weeks to evaluate the bike path before it is reopened. They want to make sure the paths are cleared of sand an obstructions before they give the green light.
Then time to get riding bikes and horses again, right?
According to the Los Feliz Ledger, the Army Corps of Engineers is playing things overly safe with the river. They believe the risk of flooding in the area will remain into 2017, so several of the flood barriers will remain in place into next year. Perhaps they’re also nervous to lose the barriers they fought so hard for this winter. There was quite the last minute scramble to secure the emergency federal funding for the barriers in the first place. Maybe its a good idea to have a few handy. You know, just for a rainy day.