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6th Street Study Expands List of Considered Design Options

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at 11:33AM
6th Street Viaduct Model Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This cable-stay replacement for the 6th street bridge was recommended by staff in February.

After their suggested cable-stay design got a cold reception at a community meeting, the team working on the 6th Street Bridge project is preparing to present two new designs, one of which would recreate the historic span.

At the February meeting of the project's advisory group, critics of the cable-stay alternative were vocal in claiming that the project team had ignored community sentiment in choosing their preferred alternative.

The 1933 structure, one of a dozen historic bridges to cross the Los Angeles river as it passes through Downtown, suffers from a condition called Alkali Silica Reaction (ASR). Described as "cancer," ASR combines with moisture to crumble concrete from the inside.

As part of the current project, the City has commissioned a wide range of experts to assess whether the current bridge could be saved, but reports continue to say that retrofit options would only slow the damage and would destroy much of the look of the structure.

At a February meeting of the project's Community Advisory Committee (CAC), City Engineer Gary Moore told a full room that he felt the cable-stay design would have "wow factor." He defended the design against critics, saying that "We had to make a decision. I'm very excited about the decision."

It seems that outcry may have led the team to back down from that choice. In an invitation sent out last week to CAC members, Project Manager Jim Wu revealed that two new options were back on the table.

Your comment and concerns at the previous CAC meeting (CAC No. 8) were considered by the project development team (PDT). The PDT is adding two additional bridge concepts, Replication of the Existing Viaduct, and a 3-Dual Tower Cable supported Viaduct. ... These two bridge type concepts will be re-introduced for further study, as options for the replacement alternative.

Wu told blogdowntown that renderings of the new options were not yet available, but would be presented at the April 8 meeting.

Unlike a previously presented option that reproduced the historic bridge's dual arches while widening spans on either side of it, Wu said that the replication option would now attempt to recreate the same number of spans as the existing bridge. It's unclear whether that would include replicating columns currently situated between the railroad tracks, something engineer Steve Thoman said in February the railroad was opposed to.

Advances in modern technology would make much of a replicated design ornamental. The metal arches would no longer be needed to support what today is a very short span across the river.

In February, the project team had indicated that a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project was complete and would be published shortly. An Executive Summary was distributed at the meeting. That document has not yet been released, likely due to the need to introduce these additional alternatives.

The CAC meeting will take place on April 8 at 6pm at the Boyle Heights Senior Center, 2839 E. 3rd St.

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