The city’s efforts to repair and strengthen the historic bridges across the Los Angeles River have not always gone as planned. A replacement for the Sixth Street Bridge and viaduct connecting Boyle Heights and downtown Los Angeles has been widely criticized by historic preservationists. The widening of the First Street Bridge as part of the Metro Gold Line expansion into Boyle Heights has faced costly delays. Now, the city’s Bureau of Engineering and Caltrans are focused on the North Spring Street Bridge, which leaps across the river north of Chinatown to Lincoln Heights in two massive arches. At a community meeting scheduled for Tuesday night, city and state officials will present a new approach to widening and modernizing the 1928 structure after the initial design to nearly double the bridge’s width was heavily criticized by preservationists and community activists for altering its historic profile and features
Engineers are returning from the drawing board with two alternate proposals they said meets modern seismic standards but will repair or replicate the bridge’s historic appearance while allowing for bike lanes. The new proposals are being introduced through an extensive community relations campaign that includes not only meetings but a YouTube video, Flickr page and advertising, including a paid sponsorship on The Eastsider and other blogs. Will the new proposals and public relations win over critics? That’s not clear.
“For the recent reconsideration of the North Spring Street Bridge, the City developed new design options to reflect a collaboration with a variety of interested parties, including historic preservationists, design professionals from the Mayor’s Design Advisory Panel, traffic operations engineers, and bikeway specialists,” said Tonya Durrell, Department of Public Works spokeswoman, in a statement. “We invite the community to attend our May 10 open house to provide input on the design options.”
Streetsblog Los Angeles notes that some transportation activists have complained the project focused on auto and truck traffic at the expense of bikes and other alternate forms of transportation. Meanwhile, Adrian Scott Fine with the Los Angeles Conservancy, the historic preservation group that opposed the initial design, told Streetsblog that his group is encouraged by the newest options but has not yet said whether the most recent designs are acceptable, said Streetsblog writer Damien Newton. Said Newton:
Fine notes that there are still some concerns on how to make a wider bridge continue the historical tradition of the bridge. “There are creative ideas churning on how to make that step at the Bureau,” Fine explains, “The devil is going to be in the details.”