Horse euthanized after accident on Atwater Village equestrian bridge

ATWATER VILLAGE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The grand opening of a pedestrian and equestrian bridge over the Los Angeles River in Atwater Village has been put on hold after a horse had to be euthanized following an accident on the bridge.

"All the equestrians were excited because it seemed in theory to provide us better access to the park and if it was raining, we still get across the river," said Lisa Winkler of the Atwater Equestrian District.

Before the bridge, horses in the Atwater Village equestrian district accessed the trails in Griffith Park by crossing the river. The new $16 million bridge was supposed to be a safer option.

"They seemed to have picked and choose what safety measures they wanted to implement based on aesthetics," said Winkler.

On Jan. 17, two horses got loose from their handler on the bridge.

One made the turn back onto the horse trail, but the other slid on the concrete into a wall, where it broke both its legs and had to be put down.

The equestrian section of the bridge is now closed.

In a statement, the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering said in part, "Based on preliminary reports from the Bureau of Contract Administration, the horse was frightened by a traffic noise. However, the city is still looking into the incident, and cannot confirm any details at this time. Both sides of the bridge will remain closed until our analysis is complete."

With traffic noise from the 5 Freeway, some are suggesting a sound wall. But others say the bridge has more serious safety issues.

The material on the bridge is rubber, but once horses get off the bridge, it turns to gravel and cement, which according to equestrian experts, is like horses walking on ball bearings.

"We need to have at least 12-foot non-climb fencing to keep anybody from going over. The pavers should be extended out. Some of the landscaping that was put in is very dangerous. There's loose gravel that can get onto the bike path. There's steel," Winkler said.

However, not everyone is raising concerns.

Cyclist John Mozzer lives in Atwater Village, and before the bridge, he had to ride on Los Feliz Boulevard to access the L.A. River bike path. He's thrilled to have a route free of cars.

"I so far feel totally safe. I'm happy they reopened it. I'm sorry to hear about the horse," Mozzer said.
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