Breaking up the Figueroa-Riverside Bridge


Old bridge is being demolished in sections as traffic travels on newly constructed bridge | Photo by Kevin Break

By Amanda SchallertX

2013 photo of new bridge being constructed next to the old structure. | The Eastsider

2013 photo of new bridge being constructed next to the old structure. | The Eastsider

Workers have begun dismantling the steel and concrete Figueroa-Riverside Bridge a few weeks after a grassroots campaign to save and reuse the L.A. River span failed to change the minds of city officials.

The demolition of the historic bridge, which was built in the 1920’s and 1930, began last Friday and is expected to last several weeks, according to an official with the Department of Public Works. The bridge links Cypress Park and Elysian Valley.

The Figueroa-Riverside Bridge will come down in three segments – the structure on the west side of the river, the truss spanning the bridge and the structure on the railroad tracks and Avenue 19.

On Monday, workers began installing handrails on the sidewalks of the new bridge, which is being constructed right next to the old one. The goal is to have the bridge ready for people to walk across by the start of the L.A. Unified School District school year, said Tonya Shelton-Durrell, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Works, in an email.

The demolition of the parts of the bridge over railroad tracks began on Friday night and continued until early Sunday morning. Construction on this area will take place on weekends over the next few weeks when the tracks are free.

Work on the steel truss that stretches across the water began Monday, Shelton-Durrell said in the email.

For the structure on the west side of the L.A. River, demolition is set to start in September.

When the process ends, workers will shift their attention to the foundations of the remaining parts of the new bridge and then the construction of frames and decks on the new structure.

City officials expect construction on the new bridge to finish in late 2015 or the beginning of 2016.

The city had approved demolition of the bridge several years ago but an effort to save the structure began last year as construction on the bridge had already begun. Advocates for the old bridge said it could remain standing next to the new span and be used as “landbridge” for pedestrians cyclists and other public uses while providing an overlook of the L.A. River channel.

But city officials, including Councilman Gil Cedillo, said it was not feasible to save the bridge, which could trigger delay and endanger federal funding for the new span. After failing to delay the demolition in the courts, bridge supporters held a wake for the structure last month.

Amanda Schallert is a fourth-year UCLA student and the news editor at the Daily Bruin.

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  1. Those steel truss pieces are amazing looking. I drove by today and it looked so sad. In my dreams the city would have contracted an artist to create a beautiful, urban piece of art from some of the steel pieces that would be placed nearby. They are just gorgeous. So sad to see them hauled off. Here’s hoping they at least are melted down and turned into something that will benefit someone someplace. God forbid LA should do something creative and out of the box with that old bridge!

  2. Bye Felicia.

  3. It may be complete in 2020, someone getting paid BIG $

  4. First the article says: ‘The goal is to have the bridge ready for people to walk across by the start of the L.A. Unified School District school year,’–which will be Sept 2014, 2 months from now.
    Then it says: ‘construction on the new bridge to finish in late 2015 or the beginning of 2016.’
    So which is right?

    • Both are right. Pedestrians will be able to walk on the part of the new bridge that is already completed. The entire structure won’t be finished until 2016.

  5. Pedestrians and bicyclists are already using the peditrian portion from what I see when driving over. Probably not officially open but it’s happening. i wouldn’t feel safe biking across the bridge in the car lanes right now, even if its allowed. I see cars constantly tailing bicyclists when driving over the bridge. Makes me nervous to watch.

  6. In 1981 when I was Kindergarten, we were traveling southbound on the bridge from Cypress Park to the Elysian side when some drunk driver slammed into our car and caused us to slam into the concrete railing at the point where the bridge made a sharp right. I had stitches on my lips, stomach and head (no seat belts or child seats at the time) which caused me to slowly have to start using glasses since I hit my head quite hard. I have mixed feelings about this bridge. Part of me wants to save our Northeast transportation heritage, but at the same time I remember the fear I had that Autumn afternoon. It looks like the new gradual curve will hopefully prevent such accidents as the one that I was in.

  7. Hopefully soon because I hate the closures of streets that use to be my short cut. The old Bridge had this steel bump right as you got to the curve. I guess it was the steel connectors for the bridge. I remember I had to bring my car to 5mph to safely make it across. With the new bridge( still not fully completed), currentry has two lanes(one lane for opposite direction’s ), there’s still a sharp curve. Well I can’t count how many times I dodge cars flying at high speeds, nearly smashing into me head on. You can’t stop stupid drivers. With such a smooth new Road and bridge seems like people wanna race through it quicker. With bars in cypress and dodger stadium beyond the mountain. How will the bridge stop drunks? Because of steel guard rails? I know the project supervisor involved with this bridge and he said with all the gentrification of basically all northeast. The hipsters have spoken. Now the new bridge will accommodate the pedestrians and bicyclist … I’ve lived in frogtown for 32 years! I’m 33 now. I am all for change. But when the new residences that aren’t even from california start gentrifying. Then speed in the narrow small streets honking at you because they don’t know how to drive these streets. Or even disregarding the new stop signs they probably asked for. You begin to think. Is the city really doing it for the safety or for the hipsters? While people are canoeing in infested poop waters, in the river, my grandma told me not to go near.
    Why don’t you build homes for the homeless people that live in the river, in those “islands”, where they bath and deficate at. When not a block away is a new river house lofts also being constructed for only hipsters for 3,000/monthly? It’s not for safety it’s for gentrification!

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