Friday, October 21, 2016

State fills funding gap to build new L.A. River bridge as construction costs soar

Rendering of North Atwater Village bridge/ Courtesy L.A. River Revitalization Corp

2013 rendering of La Kretz Crossing / Courtesy L.A. River Revitalization Corp

ATWATER VILLAGE — A state agency has awarded $3.66 million to build the La Kretz Crossing, a 302-foot-long bridge across the Los Angeles River that was initially expected to have been paid for mostly with private donations until rising construction estimates required a sizable injection of public money.

The steel, cable-stay bridge linking Awater Village and Griffith park was initially billed as a philanthropically-funded or privately-funded bridge when when landowner and philanthropist Morton La Kretz agreed in 2011 to make a nearly $5 million donation to cover most of the construction costs.

But since then, the cost and scope of the project, spearheaded by the L.A River Revitalization Corp., a nonprofit charged with helping guide development of the river,  has ballooned.  Now, La Kretz’ donation covers only a little more than half of the $9.66 million in total funds committed to the project.

That $9.66 million includes La Kretz’ nearly $5 million donation, $3.66 million awarded by the California Transportation Commission and $1 million in funds and in-kind contributions by the city and county of Los Angeles, according to a press release L.A River Revitalization Corp. The 38-foot-wide bridge will be used by equestrians, bicyclists and pedestrians  and will link the existing trails and parkland on both sides of the river.

“In our efforts to restore the L.A. River, we have focused on connecting local communities to its natural beauty,” said L.A Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement included in the press release. “The La Kretz Crossing is a key project in the city’s master plan and the kind of public-private partnership we need to continue bringing new life to the river and the neighborhoods around it.”

How did this bridge – which was supposed to have cost only $4 million under very early estimates – more than double in cost? A person familiar with the project provided this background on the bridge:

The original intent was to have the bridge fully funded by private/philanthropic sources however, circumstances changed as the project moved through the conceptual and design stages. The LARRC has successfully met all the criteria that led to the State and City awarding funding. The original estimated cost was about $4M, but as the concept and design changed, the cost increased.

La Kretz Crossing is the first suspension/ cable stayed bridge that the City of LA has had to entitle which placed extra requirements on the project during the design process, and increased costs. The public bridge is still the first known bridge to be funded in the City- even in part- by a private individual. Morton La Kretz’ initial contribution of $5M (over 50% of the total cost) made this project possible.

Work on the bridge, which initially had been expected to have been under construction this year,  is now expected to begin in the late spring of next year, with completion expected in 14 months.

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  1. The only reasons I’ve heard as to this bridge’s ballooning costs have to do with the City of LA’s ridiculous requirements that a pedestrian and bike bridge be able to carry vehicle traffic (!!!) in the form of work trucks from various city departments. A pedestrian/equestrian/cycling bridge doesn’t require to be as over-built as this structure will be to be safe – it is only the introduction of massive vehicles to the design spec that have turned this into a much more expensive project than it needs to be.

    • Well the requirement makes sense. If anyone was to be injured on the bridge it would be important that an ambulance or a similar vehicle be able to reach them. Other wise what are you going to do? Take the bleding/injured to the hospital via bicycle or horseback?

      • An ambulance?! How will the ambulance get to the bridge?! You know they have hard-backed stretchers and work in teams, right?

        No, EMT access was not the concern. The concern was that Public Works employees wouldn’t be able to drive their trucks inches from their maintenance work and might instead have to carry a tool box onto a bridge. The humanity!

  2. Lesson to everyone else wanting another ped/bike/horse bridge across the river:
    Stop trying to build another architecturally significant landmark. And find how how many vehicles the bridge is supposed to carry before you start selling it to the community.

    • The City decided to mandate that vehicles would be able to cross the bridge, not the design team and not the people funding the bridge. This whole thing is an insane example (to me, at least) of a bureaucracy run amok. Overbuilding a bridge to double its costs for no good reason (work trucks are not a good reason, they have plenty of access points on both sides of the river).

  3. I don’t think any public funds should be used for this bridge. While more pedestrian and bike bridges across the river would be welcome, this bridge is clearly only of benefit to the private horse stables it leads to.

    If you want a bridge that would be useful to the community, how about one that goes across the river between Rio De Los Angeles State Park and Frogtown?

  4. When are they starting work here? I haven’t seen much done and live in the area. Could they make the access to the bridge better? There’s a lot of closed off roads past the equestrian properties and so many signs that say private road. It makes it awkard and difficult to access the river.

    The river and River Improvement Ordinance states that public should have more access- especially pedestrians – to the river

  5. What is the name of the person who signed off on the loopy idea that 10 ton trucks had to drive over this pedestrian and bicycle bridge and in doing so doubled the price of the venture! Project still not started!

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