Residents of Pacoima and San Fernando know the wash there is a big impediment to commuting and can also be deadly. But on Monday they got a big boost.

To some residents, the wash represents not only a separation from their neighbors in San Fernando which is just a stone’s throw away but also a separation from being a safe and livable city. And how they feel one step closer to being just that.

Residents hope two big checks bring big changes for Pacoima. One, to the tune of $5.8 million from the office of Congressman Tony Cardenas, will help build a new bridge over the Pacoima wash, a new park, and new bike pathways.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Cindy Ortiz, a Pacoima resident. “This is such an exciting moment. Oh, I’m gonna cry.”

The wash has made life difficult and dangerous for the people who live here. They remember when 14-year-old Eli Rodriguez drowned while trying to take a shortcut through the wash during heavy rain.

“He was trying to take the shortest path home and sadly lost his life,” said LA City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez.

Local leaders say the new money will help build a second and wider bridge to their neighbors in San Fernando. It’s a journey of only a few hundred yards but which many residents say takes much longer.

“If I live on the other side with no bridge, I cannot go through,” Maria Contreras, a Pacoima resident. “I have to make a long way to come over here or a long way to come to the other side.”

Residents say even more importantly, more green space means more ownership and fewer trips out of town to parks or beaches in other cities. Organizations such as like Pacoima Beautiful realizing their dream of a different Pacoima.

“A lot of dirty things, not look good, so we need to keep the area clean and safe for everyone,” Contreras said.

Rodriguez says with the $5 million from the Congressman’s office, she can now focus local funds on more improvements for Pacoima.

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