Route 66 News

Preservation of historic Los Angeles bridge hits a wall

Proponents of an effort to keep a historic bridge in Los Angeles and make it a pedestrian span has hit a wall. Instead, the bridge likely will be demolished, according to a report in The Architect’s Newspaper.

The old Dayton Avenue Bridge (aka the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge), built in 1927 and improved in 1939, once carried Route 66. Initial plans were for the bridge to be demolished sometime next year after a nearby new bridge is completed. Kevin Mulcahy and fellow architects at RAC Design Build drafted a plan that preserves the bridge as a pedestrian park.

The proposal met with favorable response for a while. But it recently hit a snag, as the newspaper details:

According to Mulcahy and Rick Cortez, principal at RAC Design Build, the city’s Bureau of Engineering manipulated the project’s cost estimates “in a strategic way” to prevent City Council from requesting a feasibility study.  Without a feasibility study, the project can’t move forward.  “We still believe the council members and the Mayor have the city’s best interests at heart,” Mulcahy said.  “They’re just ill-informed.  It appears more of a risky venture on their end.  Because there aren’t groups or people asking for the Landbridge, it makes it seem like they’d be going out on a limb.”

Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer at the City’s Bureau of Engineering, said “we took a very serious look” at RAC’s proposal, and noted that there was no cost manipulation. She said the $4.9 million estimate that the project’s contractor, Flatiron Construction, gave her department was their “first take,” and likely would have changed following a closer look. Any changes to the original plan, she added, would likely not have federal funding, making a change this far into the process more challenging. “The funding implications required close consideration by our policy makers,” she said.  “The cost didn’t justify the benefit.”

Mulcahy and Cortez argue that their bridge-reuse proposal would be relatively inexpensive and easy to implement quickly.  The architects want to preserve one section of the existing bridge, the steel span built in 1939 as part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ work to channelize the Los Angeles River.  Renderings show a concrete pedestrian and bike ramp leading to an elevated pedestrian mall, with plantings and wooden benches and chaise lounges.  The Landbridge park in turn connects to an articulated pedestrian and bike bridge over the railroad tracks.

Prospects for the bridge’s preservation look dimmer. But Mulcahy said political pressure could make the city’s government reconsider. The architectural firm is asking those who want to keep the bridge to sign this Change.org petition.

(Photo of the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge courtesy of Ian Bowen of the California Historic Route 66 Association)

One thought on “Preservation of historic Los Angeles bridge hits a wall

  1. New Yorker

    The “landbridge” project documents show a montage of google images of the Highline pasted over the old bridge–with the brand of the design studio called RAC on the bottom. Blatant plagiarism. They don’t even provide any attribution of any sort. Architects students would get a “D” in their first year studio for this hacked paste-up…Grow up Los Angeles and start having some discernment about good design (and designers…)

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