LOS ANGELES — Armed with $3.1 million in federal funds, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will install three miles of temporary barriers along a stretch of the Los Angeles River near Griffith Park to ensure it won’t overflow during El Niño storms, officials announced Jan. 8.
The local district of the Corps of Engineers will also begin removing vegetation that could impede the flow of storm water in the river near Riverside Drive and the Zoo Bridge.
The county Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Congress and the Corps of Engineers last week requesting the funding for storm preparation.
“We talked about this deficit that we needed to fill, and lo and behold, we’re getting an early New Year’s present here, and we don’t have to wait for damage, and we don’t have to see that there’s going to be loss of life,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said.
Installation of the barriers — effectively raising the side walls of the river to increase its capacity — began this week in an area between Griffith Park and Elysian Valley.
The normally dry river sprang to life last week when the first round of El Niño storms pounded the Southland.
“El Niño has made the river unpredictable through the spring and will press us to our limits,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
The city has been “gearing up” for the rains in recent months, clearing 40,000 storm drains and so far giving out half a million sand bags, he said, and the city’s sanitation and street services departments have responded to hundreds of calls.
“[Last] week’s rain was just the beginning,” Garcetti said. “It’s critical that we remain poised, and that we remain ready.”
“The flood fighting has just begun for this winter,” said Kirk Gibbs, Los Angeles district commander for the Army Corps of Engineers. “The additional funding for the river should provide the interim flood risk reduction needed.”
“The unpredictable rainy season in the Los Angeles area requires us to take special preventive measures for those who live in neighborhoods along the L.A. River,” said City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who chairs the city’s Arts, Parks, and LA River Committee. “I want to thank the [Army Corps of Engineers], the county, and our own city departments for their work to improve public safety during this El Niño weather event.”
Construction teams will place the barriers along the edges of the river, which may require closing some sections of the L.A. River bike and pedestrian path. The work is anticipated to take several weeks, with the installations expected to remain in place through the spring.
“Given the potential danger that the current El Niño storms pose to the city, it’s essential that we increase safeguard measures that protect our neighborhoods, especially those along flood zone areas,” City Councilman David Ryu said.