Herald American

Bellflower approves master plan for proposed bike trail

BELLFLOWER — The City Council has approved a master plan for the Bellflower-Paramount Bike Trail, part of a concept to connect bike paths along the Los Angeles River on the west and the San Gabriel River on the east.

The Paramount City Council approved the plan more than a year ago, but Bellflower delayed action to resolve several issues.

Both cities will now seek grants to build the trail.

The issues have been worked out, said Art Bashmakian, director of planning and building services in a report to the Bellflower City Council Feb. 13. They included going around Caruthers Park instead of through it, and consideration for landscaping along Bellflower Boulevard as the bike train crosses that street.

The final version makes recommendations for future infrastructure and the possible running of the long-planned Eco Rapid light rail line along the existing bike/pedestrian path known as the West Santa Ana Branch Trail, Bashmakian said.

The existing trail, built along the Pacific Electric Railroad right-of-way, extends from Lakewood Boulevard, south of Somerset Boulevard, at the city’s western limits, southeast generally paralleling Flora Vista, to a point east of Woodruff Avenue, at Caruthers Park, said Parks and Recreation Director P.J. Mellana. The 2.1-mile route formally opened in November 2009, he noted.

The trail has been landscaped and separate bike and pedestrian paths paved, but existing railroad tracks must remain under a lease agreement with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the land and retains the right to reopen it for public transportation.

Bashmakian said the proposed adjustments do not sufficiently alter the plan approved by Paramount or require another environmental review.

Spurred by advocacy groups, Bellflower and Paramount city staffs, along with volunteers began work on a master plan in summer 2014, with the encouragement and help from the MTA and the Southern California Association of Goverments. The latter is a regional planning group based in Los Angeles.

A private company, Alta Planning and Design, was hired to layout the trail after public meetings and bicycle counts, Bashmakian said.

“Adoption of the master plan will make Bellflower more competitive in obtaining grant funding for implementing bicycle infrastructure and programs throughout the city,” Bashmakian said.

In Paramont, officials report they have some funding, a $3.4 million state grant to begin extending the trail from Lakewood Boulevard, south of Somerset Boulevard, northwest along the West Santa Ana Branch Right of Way, crossing Downey, Rosecrans and Garfield avenues and Orange Avenue, where it would meet with the bike trail that runs along the Los Angeles River, Paramount Public Works Director Wendy Macias said.

Paramount applied for an Active Transportation Program grant from the state Department of Transportation last April, where the application and proposed project ranked number two behind one of Caltrans own in-house projects, Macias said.

She said the $3.4 million is for development for the portion of the bike trail from Somerset to Rosecrans Avenue.

The estimated total cost for this portion of the bike trail is approximately $4.5 million, with a projected construction start date scheduled for May 2021, Macias said.