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.