Photo Credit: LaTimes.com
Renovated Sixth Street Viaduct Becomes Los Angeles' Newest Monument
The $588 million Sixth Street Viaduct, the largest bridge project in the history of Los Angeles, opened to the public for a two-day community celebration this past weekend. The Sixth Street Bridge, as native Angelenos know it, connects the Arts District in Downtown LA with the Boyle Heights neighborhood, a community that has seen many new developments due to gentrification in the last few years. Architect Michael Maltzan and the firm HNTB designed the bridge with 20 undulating, LED-lit arches—from 30 to 60 feet tall—that echo curving elements from the original bridge.
Original Bridge's Seismically Sick Infrastructure
The original Sixth Street Viaduct was built in 1932, but concerns over the structure’s inability to withstand earthquakes outweighed its historical status. Millions of dollars were previously spent on numerous attempts to repair the bridge over the years. The only definite cure for its continuing deterioration was to replace it entirely leading to its closure for demolition and replacement in January 2016.
The six-year project came in roughly $160 million more than the projected scope for renovations. The structure is 100 feet wide—an impressive 40 feet wider than the previous version. The project includes 10-foot-wide bike lanes, on both sides, that are protected from vehicles by bollards and curbs. There are wide sidewalks for pedestrians.
New Sustainable Urban Design
Kevin De Leon, 14th District Senator who was a part of fundraising for the project shares with the LA Times, that sustainability was a big factor in the urban design of the bridge. He added, “L.A. has been a car-centric environment to the demise of the health of so many Angelenos.”
Those health and community aspects surface in other ways. A 12-acre park on the Boyle Heights side, slated to open in 2023 will provide opportunities for recreation, leisure, and community-building. It will also help to offset carbon emissions from the highway. Five sets of stairs will connect the bridge deck to the ground. The park’s new build is similar to that of the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC and the Riservide Highway in Harlem, both with waterfront parks underneath them.
More To Come in 2023
With the new viaduct complete, the Bureau of Engineering will now move on to constructing a 12-acre park underneath the structure. This $40 million endeavor will provide access to the Los Angeles River, public art, recreational programming, and more. It is expected to break ground in 2023.
Elected officials in LA, deem the opening of the bridge to be a historic moment. The Sixth Street Viaduct was elegantly designed to be a tourist attraction for travelers much like The Hollywood Sign or the Observatory. This past weekend over 15,000 Angelenos took to the streets to celebrate the opening.