The proposed "Greenway Project" would turn a blighted stretch of land along Aviation Boulevard into a footpath and bikepath dotted with trees, public exercise equipment, and art.
By Elliott Wright
As an avid bicyclist, I was thrilled to learn of Greenway, a proposed bike- and footpath along a mile-long stretch of land on Aviation Boulevard between Imperial and El Segundo Boulevards. The project is spearheaded by the collaborative efforts of The City of El Segundo, the South Bay Bike Coalition, the South Bay Parkland Conservancy, and organizations such as the Del Aire Neighborhood Association.
The beautification project of the one-mile-by-sixty-foot space envisions several key features. The first of these is a protected bike lane, which is in the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan as well as the LA County Bicycle Master Plan. Secondly, a footpath would provide safety for pedestrians, especially Wiseburn Unified School District students, which includes both the middle school and Da Vinci High School. Thirdly, the west side of the corridor consists of the large commercial Northrop Grumman facility, which lacks any greenery at all. The project would bring trees to this area, as there are very few on the eastern side of the street as well. Finally, there are plans to include exercise equipment, dog areas, and public art.
Dr. Don Brann is founder and board president of Da Vinci Schools as well as former superintendent of the Wiseburn School District (1993-2008) and an El Segundo City Council member (2008-2012 and 2016-2020). Brann believes that the project will be an amenity for communities and nearby employees, will clean up blight and beautify the Eastern border of El Segundo, and will provide a link to the regional bike path network.
“The Greenway would be a contribution El Segundo could make to the bigger cause of providing transport to the larger beach cities. There are a lot of avid bikers; you have this fantastic South Bay bike path along the beach. If you could network that in through here, that’s beautiful; that’s what we should be doing down here by the coast,” Brann says.
Currently, the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority owns the strip of land and unused rail lines. However, the operating rights to those rails are currently held by BNSF Railroad. The rails have not been used in more than ten years as freight transportation is blocked by the Crenshaw/LAX line. Metro has been in touch with BNSF, who has stated that they are unwilling to negotiate about the land as they believe it may be needed to store rail cars in the future.
Since 2017, WALSH-Shay Construction has been using the corridor to stage the Crenshaw-LAX Metro expansion. Byproducts of that project have resulted in large dirt piles, heavy machinery, trucks, and other waste. WALSH-Shay is currently in the process of cleaning the staging area to return the rail lines to their prior operating condition.
Valerie Green is an El Segundo resident of more than ten years and has worked in schools in the Los Angeles area. She is an advocate for the Greenway project. She emphasizes one of the highlights would be to bring more nature to the largely commercial area.
“The Greenway is an amazing opportunity to add more beauty and greenery to El Segundo, especially along the border, which is forgotten. From an environmental perspective, if you have driven past where the Greenway would be, it’s being used to house what could be considered junk. Turning this into a place that has native plants, as well as a longer bike path that connects the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan, would increase walkability and bikeability.
“It beautifies a part of El Segundo and replenishes part of our tree canopy. It also increases accessibility to businesses in El Segundo. A lot of our money comes from businesses that are here, and they are right along that corridor. Creating accessibility to and from those businesses supports the economic bottom line for the city. It connects transportation to and from the Metro; it could potentially attract new businesses to the area. Some restaurants are close by, too. It’s starting to become more active, and so I think the Greenway is a necessary step to bring all of this closer together,” Green says.
Brann adds that any El Segundo resident can help push the Greenway project forward simply by becoming more aware of it and expressing interest to the city council. By doing so, it will bring awareness to the project and help make it a reality.
“Look at the proposed future of the space, in terms of the drawings, and let the city know that you are in support of the project. El Segundo citizens would like a place they could use to bike and walk. It’s also important for the general public to realize that this is in El Segundo. You can’t expect Hawthorne, Lawndale, or Los Angeles to fix it; it’s in the city of El Segundo. It’s our responsibility,” Brann states.
Green echoes Brann’s sentiments, and explains that there are a lot of ways for El Segundo residents to help push the project forward.
“We are doing things like flyering at the farmer’s market. We have hosted a Zoom to try to spread the word a little more. I think we need to do things like write letters to city council from residents. I think we need to organize more in-person events and share more about the project. I think right now we are in the phase of educating people in El Segundo. From there, there are so many brilliant people who would have great ideas of what could come next. I imagine it will take collective efforts to inform the city council and our local government that this is important to us. Then they would begin what would be a feasibility study about how we can find funding towards it,” Green says.
To learn more about the Greenway project and become more involved, check out the project’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ElSegundoGreenway. Scan the QR code below to provide your input.
Elliott Wright is a writer based in the South Bay of Los Angeles.
This story appears in the November 2021 issue of The El Segundo Scene.