First District Councilman Gil Cedillo says a last-minute proposal to save the old Riverside-Figueroa Bridge, which spans the L.A. River between Cypress Park and Elysian Valley, is “not feasible” or a “fiscally sound decision” for the city.
Cedillo’s position was made public after supporters of the bridge launched a campaign last summer to preserve the L-shaped , which is a combination of steel and concrete structures built from the 1920s through the 1930, for use as public open space along the river. Architects involved in the effort said the old Riverside-Figueroa bridge could be saved while a new, $68 million-replacement span rises only a few feet away. “It’s a place to rest. It’s a place to view the river. It’s a place to picnic,” Elysian Valley architect Kevin Mulcahy told The Eastsider last year of his landbridge proposal.
While the idea picked up support, city officials have been reluctant to get behind the landbridge, fearing it would interfere with the building of the new bridge and unsure how much it would cost to preserve and eventually turn into a public space.
Cedillo, in a message published by the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, said a feasibility study conducted by the city said halting demolition would cost up to $4.9 million, based on the contractor’s estimate, and that an additional $15 million to $25 million would be needed to turn the bridge into part of a park. Said Cedillo:
Changing gears in the middle of a project this size is complicated; the new bridge is a $68 million project, with 88 percent of the funds coming from the federal government that are specifically for bridge replacement. The cost of the new bridge includes the salvage value of the steel that is part of the old bridge, which is why there would be no savings if we leave it where it is. The construction company would also need to put larger cranes into the river so they could build the new bridge over the top of the old one, which is a very expensive proposition. The old bridge is also seismically deficient, meaning it would need extensive bracing or bracketing, even if it was found to be sturdy enough to hold a park, which is not clear.
These are just some of the many reasons many of us in the city have concluded that the project is not feasible. Spending more than $10 million on a small park is just not a fiscally sound decision for a City that continues to struggle its way out of the recession. Those funds would have to come from somewhere and we think they can be better spent.
* Update @ 11:15 a.m.: Mulcahy “We are still moving forward” on the landbridge but did not provide further details at this time.
While Cedillo is against saving the entire bridge, his message said that the city will consider turning the arches next to the west side of the bridge, which are not going to be demolished, into part of a riverfront park. “The proposal would extend the bike path and utilize a lovely piece of architecture in a new way,” said Cedillo’s message. “It’s worth considering.”