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LOS ANGELES — For over 25 years, Atwater equestrians “land-locked” by the Los Angeles River have been asking for a bridge to access the trails in Griffith Park.

In 2012, Atwater home owners finally were promised a new equestrian/bike bridge, and it seemed like the long-awaited structure was within reach. Despite a philanthropic boost from Morton LaKretz, who had set up a fund of $5 million to build the bridge, there were many setbacks to construction over the years. It remained in limbo as the delays — and the price of the bridge — kept growing.

Recently, L.A. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell came up with a cost-effective pre-fabricated bridge concept, perhaps not as elegant as the previous designs, but still approved by the equestrian community as functional and safe for horses. Another parallel pre-fab bridge would go alongside for bikers and hikers.

“When this proposal for both bridges went before the L.A. City Council, the Council approved the original design at about three times the cost estimate to build the pre-fab bridge,” said Lynn Brown, Vice President of the L.A. Equine Advisory Committee. “Speculation about City Council’s expensive decision was that possibly City Council wanted something spectacular to enhance the City of Los Angeles for its citizens and the visiting public.”

The good news, Brown said, is that all permits are now in place, and the construction of this iconic bridge, now titled the North Atwater Bridge, began in April. Shirley Lau, Principal Civic Engineer of the Bureau of Engineering, will be in charge of building this elegant structure.

The bridge was designed to accommodate both equestrians, hikers and cyclists crossing simultaneously. Equestrians, hikers and cyclists would be separated by proper fencing, and exiting safety details for all users will be addressed.

“Equestrians are excited that this grand bridge is finally under construction,” said Brown. She added that local property values are soaring, as modest housing adjacent to the L.A. River and the bridge are now going for $1 million each.

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