Achieving the goals of the LA River Master Plan will involve coordinated efforts among public, private, and nonprofit entities to implement a myriad of projects over the next 25 years.
During that time, physical, political, and financial conditions will change. However, through research of comparable precedents, an estimated budget range for the implementation of the Master Plan’s site- and system-based projects has been developed and could range from 19 billion to 24 billion dollars (2020 dollars).
There are several primary cost considerations with the LA River Master Plan budget. Costs by improved acre could range from 1 million dollars (2019 dollars) per acre for trails and similar basic amenities to 15 million dollars per acre (2019 dollars) for more robust improvements such as bridges or sites requiring remediation. Costs can also be analyzed on a project by project basis (XS, S, M, L, and XL) and estimated budget ranges per project (see chart above for ranges). Given the wide range of project typologies, these ranges are understandably broad, but provide a basis for planning for capital and operational resources.
Estimated Costs per Project Sizes in the LA River Master Plan
|Acreage / Length||Impact||Cost|
|150+ acres / 10+ miles||XL||$200 million – $1.5 billion|
|40 – 150 acres / 5 – 10 miles||L||$50 million – $200 million|
|< 40 acres / < 5 miles / 10+ miles||M||$10 million – $50 million|
|1 – 3 acres / 1 – 5 miles||S||$1 million – $10 million|
|< 1 acre / < 1 mile||XS||< $1 million|
LA River Master Plan Capital Costs Over Time
Ongoing O&M Costs
In addition to the capital costs of the Master Plan, it is important to consider operations
and maintenance costs to ensure ongoing project success. The Design Guidelines (Appendix Volume I) require every project to have a three-year maintenance plan in place, as well as a named entity for ongoing maintenance of any proposed project.
Using precedent studies, maintenance costs for the entire LA River right-of-way (51 miles) range from $1.5-3 million dollars (2019 dollars) per river mile annually. This includes a range of costs for flood infrastructure and park space maintenance. Specific improvements will greatly affect the type of maintenance required and many areas along the river already have maintenance funding in place through partnerships between LA County, the USACE, municipalities, state conservancies, and other entities such as non-profits.
In addition to overall operations and maintenance budgets, programs for full time operations and safety staff that could monitor trails and parks along the river right-of-way are important as more of the river becomes a publicly accessible connected open space.