What’s 400-feet long and orange? The planned Taylor Yard river bridge

Photo by Nathan Solis

By Nathan Solis

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.”

Photo by Nathan Solis

Photo by Nathan Solis

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.


  1. Not thrilled with this design, makes me feel boxed in, like I am in a cage. This bridge from Minneapolis would be a nice one to mimic.


    Why can’t we have nice, open-air pedestrian bridges here? The proposed design is pretty industrial looking and already feels dated. Some of our existing bridges like the Spring St. bridge could provide a simple, elegant models for this dedicated bike/pedestrian bridge.

    And does anyone know, will the bridge be lit at night?

    I will hold my final opinion until the bridge is completed but these are my initial thoughts.

  2. Correction: it was stated that the walkway would most likely be concrete or asphalt.

  3. are they unaware that orange and purple clash?

  4. Not a fan of the orange or boxed in look.

  5. Ugh to orange.

  6. Not understanding why this bridge looks so utilitarian. It reminds me of the bridge you cross at the Texas-Juarez border. Why couldn’t they elaborate on the bridge at Los Feliz?

  7. Usually, an “unveiling” is reserved for things of spectacular nature.

  8. From what I understand, certain constraints influenced the current design:

    1. Staying away from power lines on the Taylor Yard side.

    2. Not wanting to put any kind of pedestal or support in the river.

  9. at least they got the prison orange right for the prison cage look of the ugly thing.

  10. Industrial orange. Of course.! So we can be overwhelmed by ugliness.

  11. maybe they can get Home Depot to sponsor it.

  12. Really a tragic choice!!!!!!

  13. Am i the only one who likes it?!

  14. I like it too, mainly because it reminds me of the bridges I grew up near that crisscross the Delaware River, connection Pennsylvania and New Jersey:


  15. LOVE this design. Love the orange.

  16. Trying to turn our beautiful neighborhood into Silver Lake. Gentrification at its finest.. You people had better take
    a second look at whats really happening in Elysian Valley. Especially with this bridge.

  17. This bridge rocks! http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/78557 Can’t wait to bike ride on it at night. I run, walk and bike ride frequently on both sides of the river (Cypress Park and Elysian Valley). This is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Have you all signed the petition to save the Figueroa bridge and repurpose that as a park yet…? http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-historic-figueroa-riverside-bridge-and-preserve-it-for-future-park-use

  18. Selaginellas brock

    More bridges why? Were are the funds coming from for the. bridges. Are they necessary. If built what will happend to the areas around the bridges? More people and traffic.

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