Councilman Cedillo comes out against saving old Riverside-Figueroa Bridge*

Renderings show the old span (left) can remain intact under the shadow of the new bridge/RAC Design Build

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.”


  1. Two of those statements are definitely false:
    a) the design was already changed so that the new bridge could be built alongside the old bridge
    b) the old bridge is deficient according to the FHWA because of the 90 degree turn at the end of the bridge, not because of any seismic vulnerability.

    • NorthEast Community

      Councilmember Cedillo’s approach on this issue has been thoughtful, considered and respectful. What’s obvious to many is that Thomas O’Grady is desparately seeking to raise his profile after his losing effort for CD 4 council office. Similarly, RAC Design Build (O’Grady’s tag team partner) discovered “community spirit” at the precise moment river zone real estate spikes. No surprise here. Politicians and businesspeople will do all they can to get ahead. The problem is not their motives but their name-calling methods and misrepresentations of fact.

      Social media campaigns do not a good idea make… Moving forward, the riverzone needs community-involved technical review of all river adjacent projects. That way long term community members can work with objective technical experts to see if an idea makes sense.

      • Hi I represent everybody for reals

        @Northeast Community what an original alias you picked. And no you don’t sound like a Cedillo staffer at all.

  2. Scott Piotrowski

    Once again, Cedillo shows his ignorance of the facts, lack of real interest in the River, and inconsistencies with the views and opinions of his constituency.

    • preservation patriot

      The new visionary mayor of Los Angeles has delayed the demo of the historic bridge, for now in order to take second look at the prospects. The community in favor of salvation is vast and growing. Way to go, Mayor Garcetti..
      Here is the Change.Org petition in favor of saving the bridge and repurposing it as a park. As the LA River continues to expand, the repurposed bridge will be a stunningly prominent achievement in the urban renewal of the what some, including Gil, are calling “a blighted area”, Gil Cedillo has no clue what NELAns are about. If he did, he would not throw the unanimous vote of 18 Neighborhood Councils,including all of NELA under his bus. In addition,there are many local organizations in vote of support to save the bridge . What is really up with Gil? I wonder.
      Please sign the petition to save the bridge. Thank you.

  3. Come on people. Anybody who thinks this old shitty bridge, adjacent to train yards, a ‘river’ and a huge freeway interchange is just a lovely place to picnic? You’re insane. Knock it down and shut up.

    • i agree. at this point it’s just junk. it would be like leaving a broken down car on cinder blocks in your front yard. it would also have to be maintained, and that’s not cheap.

    • agreed. i live just down the street and drive over the bridge daily. the old bridge is going to be sandwiched between the new bridge and the mountain. it would not be a very scenic place for a public space/park/land bridge area at all. it would need a major overhaul, i feel like it could literally fall apart at any time, that thing is so old and decrepit.

  4. Cedillo is full of it; the new bridge has already been built, there’s no need for any cranes in the river. And the real value would be integrating it into the LA River and Arroyo Seco bike paths (which are in the proposal) – if they knock it down they will end up building another bridge in a few years for bikes / bike paths, based on the way bike development is going.
    Very shortsighted of Cedillo – they should just leave the bridge and they can deal with it down the road

    • The new bridge IS NOT “already built.” It will widen by around 22′ feet to the west and south. That’s 22′ car lane in one direction, 22′ for cars in the other direction, 12′ of bike path and 8′ of pedestrian path. (64′ and more feet wide.) Wish every roadway gave such equal treatment to bikes and pedestrians! Much of the east and west approaches to the metal span. will be wiped out to make room for the additional needed width. This leaves a short length of usable “landbridge” with no way to get up there. This “great sounding” idea does not work. There are much better options to be considered on this the first round of LA River revitalization and restoration.

    • the new bridge is only partially built, they still need to do a lot more work on that thing. there’s so many days I drive by and no one is working on it, it’s like they’re on a 3-4 day workweek.

  5. When Cedillo voted against preserving Superior market, he said he was “unencumbered by the past.” It appears with his position on the Bridge that he is also unencumbered by the future since it takes vision to see what a great opportunity this is for our community and LA as a whole. A visionary sees not what is before them now but what the possibilities are for an even greater future. With the revitalization that will happen along the river, repurposing this bridge as a park points LA towards a new vision of itself as a city of the 21st century. It’s a shame we don’t have a Councilmember who sees this.

  6. You its a good thing that people making statements to destroy this bridge weren’t in control in New York where they turned old elevated rail lines into beautiful walking green spaces in an city area.

  7. Gil Cedillo, bring mexico style corruption, lack of ideas, and 100% pay for play system to Los Angeles… If there was any money he could make on the bridge, he would be all in favor of saving it. His campaign billboard said “A blueprint for local jobs”. he was referring to himself, I can get a job if I win the CD. the word jobs has not come out of his mouth since getting elected.
    This guy could actually become mayor someday. Its not hard to imagine given how dumb the voting populace is.

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