Residents from Slauson, Windsor Hills and the surrounding neighborhoods recently gathered at Los Angeles Academy Middle School to see what transforming old blighted railroads in South Los Angeles into a bike path, walkway and green space could look like.
A 8.5-mile greenbelt with walkways and bike lanes, dubbed Rail to River, may be headed to the heart of South Los Angeles. The trail, being called Rail to River, would begin near the future light rail station in Inglewood and end just north of Washington Boulevard near the Los Angeles River.
The once bustling manufacturing corridor with train access fell into disrepair after years of disuse, and in the early 1990’s Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority purchased the abandoned land along the tracks starting just north of Vernon, at Washington, heading west at Slauson, and taking a turn southward near Western. The railway remained unused and desolate for many years. But last year, Los Angeles County Supervisors and Metro Board Members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina asked Metro to explore the possibility of transforming the blighted area into a greenway for pedestrians and cyclists.
“From what I can see of the vision, it looks like it could be a good thing for South Los Angeles,” said Lynda Wilson, a Windsor Hills resident who frequently treks her bicycle across town because she is unable to find a safe bike path in her neighborhood. “I can see biking from Western and Slauson and taking that eight mile ride to the river.”
The event was the second in a series of community meetings hosted by Metro to encourage community feedback on the project. Residents, including Wilson, poured over draft concepts presented on poster board to help visualize the possibilities for the landscape. The images included walking and cycling paths, landscaping and lighting designed to make it a healthy and safe environment.
The study, which was initiated last July at the request of Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Molina, will result in a report to the Metro Board in September 2014.
“What will be the economic impact to the neighborhood?” asked Wilson at the community meeting.
Rail to River is part of a larger plan by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to revitalize the neighborhoods and businesses surrounding Slauson Avenue. Residents who live around the proposed Rail to River project have long waited to give the area a facelift. Responding to the concerns, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas spearheaded the Slauson Corridor Revitalization Project, an undertaking aimed at making the area more pedestrian friendly and an attractive destination for local merchants and community residents. Community members have been working closely with the supervisor’s office to shape the future of the Slauson Corridor. To help local businesses, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ office arranged grant funds for property owners along Slauson to enhance building facades and storefronts.
“We must continue to raise the standard in our community,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “And we think Rail to River has the potential to improve the quality of life along the Slauson corridor. But we need your input.”