City officials will gather on the First Street Bridge – one of the Los Angeles River spans linking Boyle Heights to downtown Los Angeles – on Tuesday morning to celebrate the reopening of the structure following a widening project that took longer and cost more than expected. Portions of the 82-year-old bridge have been closed to traffic since 2007 to allow the bridge to be widened by 26-feet to accommodate the Metro Gold Line tracks that run down the middle of the structure. While the Gold Line trains started running across the bridge in 2008, work on widening the span ran into unexpected trouble and delays, ranging from the unexpected discovery of large boulders and unknown utility lines that complicated foundation construction to restricted work hours near a Metro rail yard. Officials had estimated last year that cost overruns could reach as high as $12 million.
As a result of delays, the project, which was to have been completed in May 2010, dragged on, leaving the bridge closed to westbound traffic until last Thursday. Now, traffic, trains and pedestrians flow in both directions.