Representatives of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) were joined by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to dedicate three new “gateways” to the popular Ballona Creek Bicycle Path in Del Rey Friday, December 4th.

The gateways, located at the creek’s intersection with Sepulveda Boulevard, Inglewood Boulevard, and McConnell Avenue, are intended to modernize and beautify the existing bike path, while providing safer and easier access for bicyclists and pedestrians, MRCA officials said.

The project, funded by county Proposition A, is part of an overall community effort to enhance the creek and bike path area. Recreation officials say that the new gateways create “park-like settings” featuring artist-designed decorative gates, attractive seating, drinking fountains, bike racks, native landscaping, and habitat enhancement to attract birds and butterflies.

“The Ballona Creek gateways project is part of a comprehensive effort to enhance the existing bike path and provide improved access to the creek,” said Ridley-Thomas. “These improvements will invite the surrounding community to utilize and benefit from the recreational and environmental opportunities that Ballona Creek has to offer.”

Ridley-Thomas and MRCA representatives additionally unveiled plans for the next phase of improvements to the bike path, known as the “Mar Vista Greenway Project.” Funded by Proposition A, the project is designed to restore habitat, improve water quality, promote public safety, and create job opportunities for neighborhood youth, while enhancing more than a half-mile of bike path along the creek eastward from Inglewood Boulevard to Sawtelle Boulevard, the officials explained.

To kick-off the new project, the supervisor joined community members and youth from the Los Angeles Conservation Corps’ “Clean and Green” team to plant trees on a section of the greenway adjacent to the Mar Vista Gardens housing project in Del Rey. The Conservation Corps will recruit youth from Mar Vista Gardens for paid positions to landscape the greenway. The $300,000 project will be completed early next year.

“Ballona Creek is a natural watercourse that connects the Santa Monica Mountains to the Baldwin Hills and the Pacific Ocean,” said Joseph T. Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. “Enhancing the trail and bike path is an opportunity to connect communities with nature and provide jobs at the same time.”

Ronald Schafer, chairman of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and superintendent of the Angeles District of California State Parks, also discussed the “Ballona Creek to Parks Connection Trail.” The project is part of a regional effort known as “Park to Playa” that aims to create a continuous trail linking the Baldwin Hills parklands to the Pacific Ocean.