Today the City Council voted to approve an environmental impact report that recommended demolishing and replacing the Sixth Street Viaduct with a cable-stayed design recommended by the Bureau of Engineering. The new design means an end for the Sixth Street Viaduct's well-known double span, which has been afflicted with "concrete cancer" (Alkali-Silica Reaction)--some preservationists had wanted to build something reflective of the old bridge design, while others want a new icon for the city. The "extradosed concrete box girder" recommended by the BOE, at a total estimated cost of $401 million, would have "cable-supported river spans with one central pier that clear the railroad tracks and avoids the overhead 230-kilovolt (kV) power lines." The EIR allows some design flexibility within that concept--Bridge Concept 4A, for instance, would have six towers to represent Sixth Street. Those kinds of decisions will be made in the final design approval stage. The new design will also be wider than the current bridge to enhance automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian accessibility.
At the meeting this morning, Paul Danna, a design principal at AECOM Design and a former president of the American Institute of Architects/Los Angeles, asked the council to approve the contemporary design: "Please do not place 'stylistic restrictions' on the design of the Sixth Street Viaduct...and please keep your minds open to the benefits that world class contemporary design can bring to Los Angeles." The Friends of the Los Angeles River also supported a new design, asking for a "New symbol for LA and its river," and to "make history, not imitate history."
On the other side of the issue was a vocal minority that wanted the replacement to reflect the historic design. Before the vote today, the Cultural Heritage Commission denounced the new design as "a major blow to the city's cherished collection of historic Los Angeles River bridges," as quoted in the LA Times.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge was the Council's sole voice of opposition to the motion today. He asked the council to pause to consult with the California High-Speed Rail project, which might eventually build on the Sixth Street right of way.
· Sixth Street Viaduct Hurtling (Again) Toward Destruction [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles City Council to vote on fate of 6th Street Bridge [LA Times]