Proposed L.A. River bridge is supported by the ideals and wealth of a developer turned philanthropist*

Rendering courtesy L.A. River Revitalization Corp

Morton La Kretz

When it came to finance a new Los Angeles River bridge between Awater Village and Griffith Park, the L.A. River Revitalization Corp. turned to Morton La  Kretz.  Who? La Kretz is not exactly a household name but the Los Angeles landowner, developer and property manager has emerged as one of city’s most generous benefactors, helping fund La Kretz Hall at UCLA, the La Kretz Innovation Campus in downtown Los Angeles,  the La Kretz Hall of Hope at the City of Hope and a  PATH homeless housing complex near Silver Lake.  During the 2009 dedication of another La Kretz Hall,  this one at Cal State L.A. in El Sereno, La Kretz said he had spent many years in neighboring Boyle Heights and was the first in his family to attend college.

Now, the 86-year-old La Kretz, who purchased and restored Hollywood’s landmark Crossroads of the World complex, has pledged $4 million to build a cable-suspension bridge to carry pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians across the Los Angeles River. La Kretz, in response to an Eastsider  request, explained his interest in L.A. bridge building:

A bridge over the L.A. River serves many purposes. At a local level, it connects neighborhoods with Griffith Park and the L.A. River Bike Path. In the bigger picture, it jump-starts projects, activities and support for the L.A. River Revitalization project, and it is an integral part of a larger vision to make the L.A. River a vital part of this city.

Click on the link below for a Q&A with La Kretz.

How did you get involved in this project? Did you have a previous interest in the L.A. River or Atwater?
As an Angeleno, environmentalist, and bicyclist, I have always had an interest in the Los Angeles River. It has great potential as a recreation destination and as a transportation corridor for local residents. The Atwater stretch of the River is particularly beautiful.

Was it your idea to fund a bridge or did the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp. approach you with the idea?
I look for opportunities to give back, particularly related to environmental issues. On this particular project, I was approached by a team of river supporters including River Corporation board members and an old friend, landscape designer Mia Lehrer.

Why build a bridge?
A bridge over the L.A. River serves many purposes. At a local level, it connects neighborhoods with Griffith Park and the L.A. River Bike Path. In the bigger picture, it jump-starts projects, activities and support for the L.A. River Revitalization project, and it is an integral part of a larger vision to make the L.A. River a vital part of this city.

Have you donated to a similar kind of project?
This is my first bridge, but I have been involved in construction projects most of my life.

Do you have say in the bridge design or its location? Do you have any preferences?
The River Corporation handles the day-to-day aspects of the project, but I have been involved in the design process, the locational choices, cost, schedule, and most aspects of the development.

Some equestrians have expressed concerned about sharing a bridge with cyclists and pedestrians? Can their concerns be overcome?
We are working actively with the cycling and equestrian communities to create a bridge that will meet their needs. We already have endorsements from both of these constituent groups, and are confident that the bridge will be an asset to everyone in the city.

Interested in building any other bridges?
Never say never. Let’s see how this one goes.

* This post has been updated with a new bridge rendering.


  1. Beautiful design, but my guess is the rendering excludes the high fences that will be on both sides of the walkway 🙂

    and… it will be covered in graffiti within a week, still, props to this guy, It’s a miracle that old bridge is still standing!

  2. Kudos to Mr. La Kretz for his plan to make the new bridge available to all modes of users and not solely for those equestrians who want it all for themselves.

  3. Love the idea of a new bridge over the river.
    Loathe the design. It looks like it went thru an earthquake.
    It looks broken.

    I am not a civil engineer however I specialize in photography of the LA River bridges (viaducts)

    I have spent countless hours looking at them.


    • Kevin might benefit from a cursory overview of contemporary bridge design. Not to denigrate his affectionate study of many of LA’s historic bridges, but time has moved on and the cable stay designs that have become icons of our age are worthy of appreciation. No, we still don’t have a true Calatrava (unlike Dallas and even Redding, California), but this will do quite nicely.

      • It’s great to have another bridge!
        No matter what it looks like, it would be awesome!

        It’s interesting to look at what City of LA is doing with the demolition of the Riverside viaduct just a little downstream.

        They are making a bridge that matches all the others downstream, one that will look inspired by Merrill Butler. They are making it 1930s style concrete archs on purpose.
        It will not resemble the steel bridge with the giant expansion cracks that we are driving on today.
        They are looking back at history, and building for the future a seamless harmony of one designer’s style…. that’s a class act considering it’s a beaurocracy.

        City of LA reconstructed Broadway bridge so well they won some medal for architectural preservation, and First Street bridge is also a first class high technology expansion that follows Merrill’s design with seamless integration.

        How close is this new bridge from another of Merrill’s viaducts? Fletcher Drive?

        This new bridge style is a visual slash across the landscape.
        imho if the set is going to be broken, you may as well have a tiny brightly lit
        Calatrava bridge, they look awesome in their own right.

    • I agree about the bent tower looking like its collapsing during an earthquake. After visiting over 1,000 suspension and cable-stayed bridges, I’m not the least bit excited about this design. If an inclined pylon is most favored, then just have the pylon continue at the angle of its summit towards ground level on the nearside of the embankment. This would leave the channel unobstructed as well.

  4. I know that the actual management of the river belongs to a governmental body but perhaps funds spent on the river could be used to benefit the river itself, like daylighting the ground beneath it. Plans based on turning the river into a more natural watercourse would be more helpful in the long run than planning ways to span it. Start with removing the concrete bottom of the watercourse from beginning to end, and go from there.

  5. Thank you Mr. La Kretz for your generosity, a beautiful and forward thinking investment in the Los Angeles River.

  6. Old King Cole leading the People ! … LOL !

  7. What a beatitiful design, I especially like how closely the design mimics the look of the majestic power lines adjacent to the river.

  8. As a Glendale resident, I think this is great. I can’t wait until it is completed. As of now, to ride my bike into Griffith Park (or even onto the river bike trail) requires going miles out of my way on treacherous roads shared with overly aggressive drivers. I think we will see this bridge utilized heavily and it will be an impetus for more similar bike/pedestrian friendly projects.

  9. Beautiful and will be a great addition to the river path. The river is an under-appreciated asset to NELA.

    I assume the reason for the asymmetrical design is to make use of the patch of high ground on the west side of the river. Would be nice to have a link to learn more about the design — could not find it at the LA River Redevelopment Corp. site.

  10. I hate the design. I like that there will be a bridge there, but this bridge looks awful. I like the regular styles without the cables and what is the big pole sticking out of it in the sky?
    I bike by the LA river a lot and it will be nice to have a bridge there.

  11. When I was a little girl I had a dream of being that rich old lady whose title is “Philanthropist/Patron of the Arts” so I could fund all sorts of art projects & museums with my would be ridiculous amounts of money. I might change that dream to something similar to what Mr. La Kretz: use my would be tons of money to fund really cool public works projects like parks, transit, etc.

    Now to find out how to make all that money so I can actually do this… 🙂

  12. Brokedick Bridge, symbolizing our feckless and weak sense of being a people and our incoherent vision of the future.

    How much will it cost to maintain this thing after its first lifetime? Where will that money come from? Build it to last, not just as a symbol of our shattered mentality but as a structure that won’t cost future generations in maintainenance bills.

    All hail Brokedick Bridge!

  13. I have to agree with the comment above. I think this one of the craziest things that are proposed for the river-not the craziest but pretty close. This money could be used for much, much more important things that are needed at the river, but this is what a few people want and most likely they will prevail. I would take bets on how long it will take after its built for it to be taken over by gangsters, vandals, homeless and fall into disrepair. And my bet would be for not long. If you go along the river, as I do and a lot of those who want all these grandiose things there don’t, you will note there is not a lot of people walking there, there are a goodly bit of people walking their dogs off leash and letting them harass the wildlife going to the toilet and not picking it up, there is an awful lot of trash which only gets picked up once a year when Folar does their cleanup and they are no sooner finished then it starts to appear again, there are very few people who ride on the bicycle path, there is no security of any kind or anything posted as to how to reach security if you need it and how to tell them where you are on the river, seldom do you see anyone using the pocket parks and parks along the river other than homeless, gang bangers and kids doing drugs. There are no signage regarding anything at the river-hours, rules, etc, etc. Instead of doing things that are needed and truly beneficial to the river it is only stupid big ticket items like this that get the attention and get done.

  14. I use the LA river path on the Atwater side all the time. I see lots of people walking. I see families checking out all the birds. I see couples. I see people walking their dogs. Tons of people use the bike path, but its pretty hard to get to the bike path and Griffith Park, as the paved portion is on the Griffith Park side. I have never seen gang activity– I’ve seen homeless but they are harmless. I’ve never felt unsafe as a female walking by myself because so many people use this area and I believe the bridge will increase traffic even more. It’s a really special part of Los Angeles.

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