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Glendale-Hyperion Bridge Redesign Is Bad News For Pedestrians

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The $50 million makeover of a bridge that connects Silver Lake and Atwater Village has turned into a battleground between cars and pedestrians.Starting in the summer of 2016, the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge that spans the Los Angeles River and goes over the 5 freeway will be undergoing a modernization project that will also seismically retrofit the 86-year old structure. As part of the project, a separate pedestrian and bicycle path will be constructed on the old Red Car piers that still stand next to the bridge. However, pedestrian advocates are putting up a fight against what looks to be the loss of one of the bridge's sidewalks.

Earlier this month the Board of Public Works approved a proposal (known as "Option 1") that would keep the bridge's four lanes of traffic and two bike lanes, but eliminate the sidewalk on the southern/eastern side. Pedestrian advocates are pushing for "Option 3," which would eliminate a lane of Atwater-bound traffic to make room for two sidewalks.

"Pedestrians, particularly the Marshall high school students who are brave enough to regularly cross the bridge on foot as it is now, need the protection provided by wide accessible sidewalks and signalized crosswalks allowing them access to these sidewalks," reads a Change.org petition.

If you're curious, Option 2 has only one sidewalk and three lanes of traffic according to KCET. No wonder neither side likes it!

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Both plans will include the separate pedestrian/bike path on the Red Car piers, but it only connects to the L.A. River Walk on the Los Feliz/Silver Lake side. The 5 freeway still separates the River Walk from the neighborhoods. Without the second sidewalk, pedestrians would be forced to take a half-mile detour in order to safely cross Glendale Boulevard to get to the south side of the street.

"I think the age of the car has peaked. We need to return L.A. to its neighborhoods," one neighbor told L.A. Weekly.

Although Option 1 would be a step back from making Los Angeles the walkable city it is on its way to becoming, it seems to have the inside track after being approved by the Board of Public Works and having a supporter in Councilman Tom LaBonge. Atwater Village, whose neighborhood and business would see a reduction in lanes of incoming traffic, opposes Option 3.

However, there may be hope for pedestrian advocates, as incoming councilman David Ryu, who replaces Tom LaBonge, is an advocate of Option 3.