Last July, State Senator Ben Allen told the Community Council that the state would give the City of Los Angeles $11 million to build a pedestrian bridge connecting Will Rogers State Beach and the George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon.
In the two-mile stretch of PCH from Chautauqua to Temescal Canyon Road, there is no pedestrian access to the beach from the inland side of the highway.
Now, even as the landscaping in the 46-acre park is taking place, and there is a projected opening this summer, it was disheartening to listen to the L.A. Bureau of Engineering admit at the quarterly PCH Task Force meeting on Wednesday that they have not yet started on construction plans.
At the Zoom meeting, Community Council President David Card asked, “Has the state funding been transferred to the City? And has there been a transfer of the right-of-way for a path along PCH that would connect Potrero with Temescal?”
The Bureau of Engineering’s Katrina Forbes said that before they could move forward with design, they needed an agreement with Caltrans and “we need to front-fund the project for Phase 1 [design].”
Caltrans representative Abdi Saghafi said, “We are working closely with the City of LA’s BOE to make it happen. Things are moving forward, and we’re excited about this project.”
At today’s Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Joe Halper said, “Bureau of Engineering hasn’t been able to see how to access the funds, so they can get started. Can this be addressed?”
While Community Council chair in 2019, Wolfberg (now deceased) wrote to state officials: “The new park will have trails from the Palisades Recreation Center to the inland edge of Pacific Coast Highway. We will need access at trail’s end to assure safe passage to Will Rogers State Beach.
“This is not only a recreation access issue for beach goers, walkers, runners, swimmers, surfers and bicyclists, but also primarily a safety issue. People die regularly trying to jaywalk across six lanes of high-speed Pacific Coast Highway traffic.
“The danger will only increase exponentially once the park is open and the trail ends so tantalizingly close, yet so dangerously far across the highway to the sand.”
Card also expressed concern at the PCH meeting that if there is not a bridge or a trail to Temescal it would become a big safety issue for people, who might try to run across the highway to reach the beach.
The proposed path from Potrero to Temescal, which would require a right-of-way from Caltrans, is also held up because according to Caltrans’ Saghafi, “There are challenges to complete the pathway. It is used by maintenance to store equipment for the winter season.”
To recap: Although landscaping is set to begin in George Wolfberg Park at Potrero, there is no safe exit at the bottom. There’s state money for a pedestrian bridge, but Bureau of Engineering hasn’t started the design (and once finished and approved, it will need to go out for bids. The whole process could take years). There is no approved path to go from Potrero to Temescal, which in essence has turned this regional park (which has cost the City upwards of $100 million), into a nice back yard for the neighbors who live on the rim.