Waiting for the arches to return to the First Street Bridge

The First Street Bridge opened 81 years ago this month, with it’s 1,250-feet of concrete spanning the Los Angeles River to connect Boyle Heights and downtown Los Angeles. Along both edges of the bridge and viaduct, city engineer Merrill Butler, who designed the neo-classic structure, placed five ceremonial arches – or pylons – with balconies overlooking the Los Angeles River and streets below. But those distinctive arches – each weighing 200,000 pounds – on the north side of the bridge had to be removed as the span is widened to accommodate the new tracks for recently completed Gold Line. The good news is that those arches will eventually be repaired and returned to the expanded bridge. The bad news is that the entire bridge project – which has left only two eastbound lanes open to traffic – won’t be completed until early next year, according to Lauren Skinner, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works. The First Street Bridge will be widened by 26 feet, making for a total width of about 100 feet. That will provide enough room for the new tracks and the traffic lanes lost during the construction. One of the goals of the project was to preserve or at least recreate the “original aesthetic,” said Skinner said. Those masonry arches were an important part of that aesthetic. One of the arches, on the east end near Mission Road, has already been relocated but still needs to be repaired and retrofitted with steel rebar. The four remaining arches, like the one pictures above on Santa Fe Street, sit in the bridge’s shadow, awaiting to be returned atop recreated concrete bases. Related links: * Los Angeles River Bridges. City of LA * Will the historic Glendale-Hyperion bridge still look historic after the city gets done with it. The Eastsider * Sixth Street Bridge report fails the history test. The Eastsider * Bridging a cultural gap along the Los Angeles River. The Eastsider

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