Walkway over La Cienega will connect South L.A. to the beach

By Kellie Chudzinski

The new bridge connecting the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area to the Stoneview Nature Center will complete a 13-mile pathway to the sea

A 13-mile trail system connecting the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area to Playa del Rey via the Baldwin Hills Overlook and Ballona Creek Bike Path is just a few months away from completion, with construction of a pedestrian and animal crossing over La Cienega Boulevard soon to be underway.

The prefabricated bridge will link the state park to the Stone-view Nature Center through a network of trails, parks and open spaces beginning at Stocker Street. This final phase of the Park to Playa trail system is especially significant in that it completes the first pedestrian and bicycle pathway from the 338-acre South Los Angeles nature preserve to the beach and adjacent Ballona Wetlands.

“The Park to Playa Trail started out as a vision — a vision that we could connect the Pacific Ocean to this incredible space we know as the Baldwin Hills parklands. This will be the first seamless walking and biking trail created that will connect the communities of South Los Angeles directly to the beach,” reads a statement by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who championed the project.

The bridge is expected to feature native landscaping to facilitate safe crossings for smaller area wildlife. Project renderings show an earth-tone metal span and concrete walkway lined with planters on one side.

Contract firm the Griffith Company will install the bridge by constructing foundation supports on both sides of La Cienega and laying in the prefabricated piece, a method chosen to avoid disturbing local wildlife, said Ridley-Thomas communications deputy Fred Mariscal.

After starting development in 2011 and breaking ground in 2013, the Park to Playa trail system is slated for completion by this fall. Over those nine years, six new trails and connections have been added to existing parks, along with other improvements.

Irma Muñoz, president of Mujeres de la Tierra (Women of the Earth), and David McNeill, executive vice president of Baldwin Hills Conservancy, have praised project.

Completion of the trail network “sets the tone for the next 20 years of park expansion, community access and wildlife connectivity,” McNeill said.

“Thanks to the efforts and leadership of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas we will finally have access to our great beaches — access that we didn’t have before,” reads a statement by Munoz.