New L.A. River Barriers Will Save Us From El Niño's Wrath

A few days ago, when El Niño was doing its best to submerge Southern California, a number of videos surfaced of the Los Angeles River flood channel filled to the brim with rushing water and debris. Apparently the torrent was a bit too close to the top of the river's concrete edges for comfort in some spots, as Mayor Eric Garcetti's office announced today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will be installing temporary barriers along a three-mile stretch of the L.A. River near Griffith Park.


The barriers will ensure, more or less, that the river won't overflow its banks and flood surrounding communities in L.A. and Glendale.

On Jan. 6, the L.A. District of the USACE declared an emergency to their headquarters after seeing how close the water was flowing to the top. This action frees up $3.1 million of federal money for barriers known as "HESCO Bastions" to be erected along the river's banks. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors also wrote a letter to the USACE, requesting they deliver the funds ASAP.

The barriers will line the river, which parallels the 5 Freeway, between just after where the river passes under the 134 Freeway, to right before where the river passes under the 2 freeway. The Mayor's office noted that this could result in the closing of the L.A. River Bike and Footpath in spots where the barriers are put up.

In 1938, a flood caused by the overflowing of the L.A. River killed 115 people. After the disaster, and after similar floods in 1914 and 1934, the USACE paved the river into the glorified storm-drain it is today. The river has held since then, but obviously the authorities think it might need some reinforcement.