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City Recommends General Contractor for Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement

The 6th St. bridge over the L.A. River. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

I'm not sure I'm ready to let the 6th Street Bridge go just yet, but it seems I have little choice.

It is in pretty bad shape, according to a planner linked to the project I spoke with last month. Internal chemical reactions have eaten away at the concrete of the 80-year old structure, he explained, meaning there wasn't much they could do to save it.

And whether or not I'm a fan of the winning design from HNTB, the project appears to be moving along steadily.

Today, city officials announced that the Bureau of Engineering has recommended that Skanska/Stacy and Witbeck take the helm of the $400 million dollar replacement project.

In order to make the process more efficient, they say, Engineering and the Department of Public Works will, for the first time, make use of the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) Method. This means that the contractor will present during the design phase and work closely with HNTB to ensure the project meets budget targets, design is optimized to reduce cost, and quality and sustainability are enhanced.

In a statement released about the choice of contractor, City Engineer Gary Lee Moore noted that the city's commitment to making the bridge a community destination remains unchanged, saying “The Skanska/Stacy and Witbeck team understands our commitment to partnership and demonstrates an exceptional ability to work collaboratively with the design team as well as the Boyle Heights and Downtown Arts District communities, and the Design Aesthetic Advisory Committee."

Construction activities, slated to begin in 2014, will join several other recently completed, currently underway, or future projects, designed to enhance L.A.'s relationship with its much maligned (and even recently engulfed-in-flames) river.

Just last month, the $1.7 million, three-acre Sunnynook River Park was officially opened to the public, joining a handful of other parks and parklets that have popped up along the river in the last few years. Meanwhile, the new $43 million Riverside Bridge connecting Elysian Valley with Cypress Park is slowly taking shape. And while the existing bridge's demolition signaled the unfortunate loss of the mystical location known to some as "the catacombs" (photo below), the new bridge will sport a bike path and allow for safer connections for cyclists moving between the river path and lanes heading into Lincoln Heights and downtown. Finally, the Board of Public Works recently approved a $6 million pedestrian (and horse) bridge linking Atwater Village with Griffith Park as part of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan.

In short, if kayaking along the river does not appeal to you, in the very near future, you will at least have myriad ways to cross it and observe it lovingly from a distance.

For more information about the project, please visit the viaduct website here.

The Catacombs. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

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