The proposed Verdugo Wash bike trail and linear park are a step closer to reality after the Glendale City Council this week showed enthusiasm for the idea and approved opening a bidding process for a design firm to help determine its feasibility.
This year’s budget allocates $250,000 in Measure S sales tax money to fund the visioning study, which will solicit input about the proposal from community members and identify cost estimates and potential issues to navigate. The trail would begin in Crescenta Highlands and follow the natural Verdugo Wash along 17 other Glendale neighborhoods all the way to where it meets the Los Angeles River, which itself has a bike and pedestrian trail.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to be able to connect to several neighborhoods, several communities and offer another mode of transportation,” said Bradley Calvert, assistant director of community development, at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The 9.5-mile trail would include not just construction of the concrete pathways but would likely involve habitat restorations and aesthetic touches to help transform the area into an urban link throughout the city’s vast footprint. Calvert said work would be done to have the trails reflect the neighborhoods they run through; the path near downtown ought not to resemble the one through Verdugo Woodlands, for example.
“This is a big and bold potential move and it’s an opportunity to really create a character-defining feature for the city of Glendale, and having a unified urban design vision — something that is recognizable and consistent throughout the route — is important,” Calvert added. “It’s also important to recognize that there are 18 different neighborhoods that are adjacent to or that this Verdugo Wash runs through, and to recognize that each of these neighborhoods are distinct and individual. When we approach these design strategies, we should recognize each of the individual neighborhoods and design appropriate to that context.”
As visual examples, Calvert cited trails in Indianapolis and Atlanta as models the city could study to thoughtfully implement the trail. The L.A. River path also provides a nice blueprint, he added, though on a slightly smaller scale.
“We do think there are lessons that could be learned,” he said. “They are incorporating natural habitat restoration and they are incorporating pedestrian and cyclist trails as well.”
Councilman Dan Brotman, who has enthusiastically supported initiatives promoting alternate transportation and pedestrian-friendly developments, said he was thrilled so far with the direction the proposal was taking.
“I love the fact that we’re not just talking about a bike path,” he said. “We’re talking about an urban greenway or a linear park,” defined as a park that is longer than it is wide — and in some cases, quite long. “To make it appeal to a big segment of our community is perfect.”
Councilwoman Paula Devine brought up the public enthusiasm for the Space 134 proposal in past years and wondered what public outreach efforts for this project would be like. It’s especially important, she noted, because of the sheer scale of the path.
“This is going through 18 neighborhoods, and that’s a concern,” she said, still voicing her support for the project.
Calvert added that the nature of the Verdugo Wash project likely means it would not create a chronic displacement of traffic and people in their neighborhoods, unlike what Space 134 would have caused in placing a 24-acre park atop the 134 Freeway through downtown.
“I think it can be taken in smaller bite-sized approaches,” he said. “Not every segment is going to take as much as the next. Each of them will have a different sort of design strategy. Some will be easier; some will be more difficult.”