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Flashy Atwater Village-Griffith Park bridge is way over budget

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Who has $3.8 million to contribute?

A bridge connecting Atwater Village and Griffith Park, offering pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians a new way across the Los Angeles River, was supposed to be built his year, but plans have stalled, reports Eastsider LA. The project is getting handed off to the city un-started and way over budget from River LA, which was raising money to build it.

Plans for the bridge were floated in 2011 and approved in 2013. At first, says ELA, the cost was estimated at $5 million. Local real estate mogul Morton La Kretz, owner of Crossroads of the World, offered to kick in most of the money needed to build the striking, potentially bird-endangering bridge, which became known as La Kretz Crossing. But by 2014, the estimate had swelled to $9 million, forcing bridge backers to look around for more money.

Now the figure is a whopping $13 million, and there's only $9.2 million in funding lined up. "Therein lies a huge gaping issue," Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents Atwater Village, said at today's meeting arts, parks, and river committee meeting, according to ELA.

Another big issue: Instead of giving the city a finished bridge, River LA wants to transfer all the pieces of the project to the city—the grants secured for the project and all other funds, all the permits and plans they’d need to build the thing—and let the city both start and finish the job, "per a gift agreement," say city documents from today’s parks committee meeting.

The bridge would be a gift the city has to pay for. Shirley Lau, a rep for the Bureau of Engineering, estimated that even with the funds handed over by River LA, the city would have to pull together $3.8 million of its own to get the bridge built, nevermind paying costs of maintenance, "which were included in the original gift but later rescinded," Lau said. And that’s just an estimate, as the real cost of building the bridge would’t be truly firm until they get estimates from contractors.

Lau said her department is looking at ways to lower costs, maybe even looking to a prefabricated bridge.

It seems that part of what’s driving the costs of this bridge up is its "iconic" design, but at least one person who spoke at today's meeting didn't seem to care about that. "I’m very glad that you are considering an alternative design," said river advocate Karin Flores. "I don’t think we need another iconic design. We [already] have these amazing historic bridges …. We need to stay to human scale and let the river be the main point of attraction."

Down the river, another exciting bridge is planned—an orange structure by Studio Pali Fekete Architects intended to echo the design of the old railroad bridges that could once be found crossing the river. That bridge will create a bike and pedestrian link between the Cypress Park and Elysian Valley sides of the LA River.