A new L.A. River bridge in Atwater Village is turning out to be a costly gift [updated]

Rendering of La Kretz bridge

ATWATER VILLAGE — The estimated cost of building a sleek, cable-stay bridge across the L.A. River has continued to rise – along with the public’s share of the bill.

A report presented today to a City Council committee said the cost of building the 300-foot-long span for pedestrians and equestrians had risen to $16.1 million. That’s three times more than the original estimate of $5 million made in 2011 by the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp., the nonprofit group that championed the idea. Landowner and philanthropist Morton La Kretz had agreed to cover the original $5 million cost but nothing beyond that, leaving public money to pay for the remainder.

Here’s a rundown of what’s happened in recent years:

  • Back in 2011 most of the bridge’s $5 million estimated cost was to be covered by a donation from La Kretz, whose foundation has financed numerous public facilities across Los Angeles.  The structure — to be called the La Kretz Crossing — was billed as the first privately financed public bridge across the river. It would be turned over to the city as a gift at no cost.
  • The original construction estimates proved overly optimistic. By 2014 the cost had risen to $9 million, and La Kretz apparently was not willing to chip in anymore. As a result, city officials had to seek state and other public transportation funds to fill the gap.
  • Last August city engineers were instructed to look at more affordable, prefab bridges as alternatives after new estimates of building the original cable-stay design has climbed to $13 million.
  • This month a Bureau of Engineering report recommended that the city go ahead with the cable bridge despite an even bigger price tag of $16.1 million. While the prefab option would be several million dollars cheaper, the city would not able able to use the state and other funds that had been approved for the most costly cable design. Also, La Kretz declined to use any of his donation to pay for the prefab option.
  • Part of La Kretz’s original donation has been used for design work, leaving $3.88 million. That means $12.25 million in public funds will have to be used to pay for the remainder of the estimated construction costs.

After today’s presentation, the council’s Arts Parks & River Committee voted in favor of most of the recommendations made by the Bureau of Engineering but the project still needs to be reviewed and approved by other committees and the full council.

Update: The full City Council voted in favor of building the bridge with a combination of private and public funds. L.A. Times

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  1. an aside: the 60 unit project has been dead for some time, but you already knew that……

  2. why does La Kretz get the blame… he’s offering a 5 million dollar gift, that nobody else seems to be able match. It’s not his fault the city can’t get things done with the earmarked dollars.

    More of these bridges are necessary regardless of funding source.

  3. Interesting fact…Most of the river water trickling below is actually treated sewage.

  4. Interesting fact….that is THE most heinous looking bridge and it’s perfectly suited to haul folks over the poop river to their new condos, stylistically speaking

  5. That’s great when this bridge is built as a gift for the village. The bridge will make the river and the village more beautiful. Thanks for the news!

  6. In mother russia, bridge walk over you. Also sometimes here in LA apparently.

  7. The cost estimates for LaKretz Crossing are going up faster than the the B-1 Bomber program.
    Why not save everyone from the shock when the next cost increase gets announced –
    just pencil in the final build-out estimate on LaFretz griffith park Golden Gate at $100 million and
    be done with it.

  8. I gather La Kretz must own the horse stables at the location of this bridge, since in the past it was said that the owner of the horse stables there initiated this bridge idea and offered the $5 million for it. Again,THEY initiated this idea, and at their location, but at the city’s maintenance and liability experience. They are chipping in because they can make plenty of money off horse rentals and stabling over the years and decades to come thanks to this bridge. The money they offer is fine and dandy and nice, but not so generous as it might seem.

    I note the design. That needs a serious change. The height of the walkway is the same or little different from the land on ether side.

    But now we have a new report out by the federal engineers saying that river, and especially in that location because of the islands and plants that have been allowed to grow in the riverbed, is in real danger of flooding in an inevitable 100-year storm. The report said the surrounding flood basin (that entire area) could be under as much as 10 feet of water. That kind of a flood would overwhelm and destroy this bridge if it is built at the height in that picture. It would be grossly irresponsible not to raise the height of that bridge by a good 15 feet. But the city instead seem too determined to raise the cost to build it.

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