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Atwater Village to Get "Iconic" Bridge Across the LA River

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Plans are in the works for a multi-modal bridge across the LA River in North Atwater that LA leaders hope will become a catalytic public amenity along the river. The LA River Revitalization Corporation project is currently in conceptual design review with the city. It recently got an approval from the Cultural Affairs Commission and will be moving into Design Development and environmental review soon--with the best-case scenario for construction targeted for the end of 2012.

On the east side of the river, the bridge connects to North Atwater Park, which is currently under construction on an expansion project. To the west of the river, the bridge connects to an eight mile bike lane and Griffith Park.

The 30 foot wide bridge will have separate wood paths for bicycle, pedestrian, and equestrian uses (horses already use this point on the river to cross below the 5 Freeway), but will also include High Line-esque observation points and resting areas. According to Omar Brownson, the executive director of the LA River Revitalization Corporation, the purpose of the bridge is not just to move people from point A to point B: "We want the bridge to be a destination, not just a crossing. It should be a gathering place for people."

The bridge's design team includes some local heavy weights: engineers Buro Happold, landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates, Fuscoe Engineering, construction consultants Gardiner & Theobald, Leighton Engineering, and environmental engineering firm Tetra Tech.

The bridge, which will be visible from the 5 Freeway, will reach 220 feet tall, with what everyone hopes will be an iconic cable stayed design--an architectural statement that will draw eyes to the urban river, which, to many Angelenos, is only visible in movies and commercials.

The aspirations are deliberate--the LARC hopes the project will act as a catalyst for more projects along the LA River. According to Brownson, "building on the LA River is never easy." There is a River Implementation Overlay Zone in the works that could make developments like this easier in the future, but for now, development along the LA River is subject to a dense maze of jurisdictions and regulations. Although the city passed the LA River Revitalization Master Plan in 2007, the bridge will face review by five separate agencies. The conceptual design of the bridge has already been reviewed by the Ad Hoc River Committee, the Board of Public Works, and the Cultural Affairs Commission--just for the city's portion of approvals.

The bridge has been on the drawing board at the city for 20 years and has finally received the cash it needed to move ahead--$4 million from Morton La Kretz, whose name is also attached to UCLA and the city's new businesses incubator Downtown. Brownson hopes that the public-private partnership aspect of this bridge (along with the philanthropic giving associated with it) will be a catalyst for more of the plans that have been envisioned for the LA River.
· LA River Revitalization Corporation [Official Site]