Concept designs for the Taylor Yard bikeway and pedestrian bridge were revealed to a crowd at the Elysian Valley Recreation Center Tuesday night, with mock ups and a model showcasing a bright orange, light weight steel span that will allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the L.A. River between Cypress Park to Elysian Valley.
Architect Zoltan Pali from SPF: Architects described the three-lanes bridge, which would be anchored on the Cypress Park side of the river near the former Taylor Yard, as simple, honest and elegant, with an emphasis on practicality. The design incorporates pre-fabricated cubes that provide the frame for the bridge, while the pathway will either be concrete, cement or a mixture of the two. The center lane will be used for bicyclists while the two outer lanes will be reserved for pedestrians. A recycled water line from the DWP will be blended into the design of the bridge, giving the final look a bright orange frame with a purple pipe.
Initial estimates for the bridge were at $5.3 million, but project manager Carl Nelson from the Bureau of Engineering put the cost closer to $8 million. “I want to do this for you and I’m really looking forward to delivering this project to you,” said Nelson to the residents of Elysian Valley and Cypress Park.
Before the reveal, councilmember Mitch O’Farrell of District 13 greeted the audience inside the basketball court at the recreation center.
“This bridge is just one component of the river revitalization project that will make the bridge more accessible for us. More real,” O’Farrell added.
Nelson and Pali responded to questionnaire cards that were passed around the room. One Elysian Valley resident shouted, “I’ve been a resident for 34 years. I’m a little perplexed at the lack of outreach. Why is this the first I’m hearing of this bridge?”
Other questions included ‘Why orange?’ and ‘Why steel?’
Pali suggested that his firm considered several color schemes, including rust and gray.
“I don’t see orange as an unnatural color,” Pali added in defense of the bridge clashing with the natural colors of the river.
The decision to use steel came from Nelson, who suggested that a heavier concrete bridge would have forced a pedestal into the river, thus impacting the area around the bridge. Certain factors played a role into the bridge’s design: including nearby power lines, railway, and a difference of elevation from one end of the river to the other over a distance of 400 feet.
An estimated timeline puts design, bids for the contract, and construction at close to 2 years.
Severin Martinez of Walk Eagle Rock sees the bridge as a pleasant alternative to Fletcher Drive and North Figueroa Street for reaching the L.A. River from Northeast L.A.
Bicycling advocate Josef Bray-Ali applauds the effort, but thinks that the money for the project could have been better utilized, like repurposing the existing Riverside Bridge.
“I like the idea, but the city doesn’t have infinite amount of dollars to spend on projects like this,” Bray-Ali said.
Deborah Murphy with Los Angeles Walks has been involved with bringing the bridge to Taylor Yard with several community workshops since 1992. She’s excited that the process is this far in, as the project has lost funding several times in the past.
“It’s important to connect Elysian Valley with Cypress Park. It’s always important to connect communities.”
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.