(August 3, 2005) -- An open culvert that stretches eastward along Atherton St. from the CSULB Pyramid to the Los Cerritos channel east of Palo Verde Ave. may finally be covered over as one of the hundreds of federal projects in a recently passed $286.45 billion federal Transportation bill.
The item -- one of roughly 5,000 "high priority" local projects in the bill -- specifies "Provide landscape enhancement of an existing open culvert on Atherton Street, Long Beach."
4th District Councilman Patrick O'Donnell said getting $1.2 million included in the bill for the project is a "great event" and he's urged the sum be used to cover the culvert. "City staff is working up cost estimates for this," he told LBReport.com.
The $1.2 million for the project in the 2005 Transportation bill is twice the $600,000 for the item in the bill's 2004 version that passed the House but stalled in the Senate. Although the "landscape enhancement" verbiage sounds fluffy, Councilman O'Donnell said "it's a federal construction project and the culvert is a health and safety issue. We've had cars slide into it when it rains and it's a potential mosquito source in the summer."
Councilman O'Donnell specifically thanked Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Carson-LB), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for ensuring funding for the item wound up in the final bill. He said he'd lobbied emailed, written, done everything possible "with the ultimate goal to cover the culvert."
Getting federal taxpayers to ante up for an Atherton Street project was the subject of three generations of City Hall/Council lobbying via former Councilmembers Del Roosevelt and Dennis Carroll, culminating with Council incumbent O'Donnell.
The uncovered culvert parallels the north side of Atherton St. starting at McNab Ave. and ducks under Palo Verde Ave...
...and then continues as an open trench eastward to Knoxville Ave. before emptying into the Los Cerritos flood control channel.
Locals say a similar open culvert along Stearns St. was covered in the 1970s...and neighborhood residents have fumed about the open Atherton culvert for years.