It was just over two years ago that I first heard that the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge over the L.A. River was doomed for demolition to make way for a newer version that would be built right next door. Despite its historic designation, it is the only mixed concrete and steel truss bridge crossing the L.A. River, I was resigned to seeing it go and just quietly said goodbye. The bridge was built in the 1920′s and rebuilt in the 1930′s, and it seemed it was just time for the bridge to go.
The demolition is planned to occur sometime in the Spring of 2014.
This summer, at the 11th hour, a plan to save and better the bridge emerged. Architects at RAC Design Build showed a preliminary design where a public park and bicycle and pedestrian path would be built around one section of the steel span built by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers in 1939 after a landslide badly damaged the bridge. The full report prepared for free by RAC Design Build can be found here.
Enthusiasm for the plan, which was named the Figueroa Landbridge, grew until a report by the city’s Bureau of Engineering said the design would cost nearly $5 million more than the $43 million set aside in federal funds for the new bridge project.
The City Council refused to set aside $64,000 for a real feasibility study, even after it was revealed that the estimate was inflated for several reasons, not the least of which was the claim that cranes wouldn’t be able to access the river channel even though cranes were doing just that for the construction of the new bridge.
In an article in this week’s Architect News, RAC Design Build architect Kevin Mulachy and principal Rick Cortez are pushing the plan again as time is running out for the City Council to make a move to save the bridge. A petition at Change.org has attracted 367 signers at the time of publication. But so far the petition has made enough noise to attract support from city leaders. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, which has made saving and restoring the river a cornerstone of their plans for the city, passed when offered a chance to comment on the bridge plans. Council Member Mitch O’Farrell told Streetsblog they would get back to us yesterday afternoon. Read more…