Over the next few years, the city engineering bureau will totally overhaul and update the Glendale-Hyperion Viaduct. The bridge—which connects Silver Lake to Atwater Village— opened in 1928 and needs to be retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.
Along with the retrofit, the bridge’s top side will be substantially redesigned to make it safer for pedestrians, people on bikes, and drivers. Protected bike lanes and a new, accessible sidewalk will be added along its northern edge.
“There will be a safe sidewalk connecting Atwater Village to Silver Lake for the first time,” Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said Thursday night at a community meeting. “Pedestrians will be able to walk back and forth without having to tiptoe across the curb like I see, and cringe at, from time to time.”
Pedestrians are able to walk across the bridge now, but they must contend with a narrow curb-like sidewalk in some locations. That’s not safe, and it’s not compliant with modern accessibility standards.
Another big part of project? An entirely new pedestrian-only bridge that will be built just south of the Glendale-Hyperion Viaduct, along a former Pacific Electric Red Car right-of-way, where P.E.’s Glendale-Burbank Line crossed the LA River.
That bridge, dubbed the “Red Car Pedestrian Bridge,” will provide a new connection between the LA River Bike and Pedestrian path and Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village.
The above renderings are only rough preliminary design concepts, and are subject to change over the next couple years. For now, the city’s Bureau of Engineering is weighing two concepts; one with a small shade canopy, and one without a canopy.
The Red Car Pedestrian Bridge will be completed before construction on the main viaduct’s span begins.
The overhaul will also include a reworking of the area’s 5 freeway entrance and exits, as well as a new traffic signal to help pedestrians safely cross to the side of the bridge with the new sidewalk.
The Glendale-Hyperion Viaduct will remain open for motorists and cyclists during construction. At Thursday’s meeting, city officials clarified that at least one travel lane in either direction will remain open at all times. The bridge will return to four travel-lanes once construction is complete.
City officials say they want to complete construction of the Red Car Pedestrian Bridge by the end of 2019. Once the pedestrian bridge is finished, work will start on the main viaduct. Construction is expected to take approximately three years, which puts a completion date towards the end of 2022.
That’s almost two decades after the planning to overhaul the bridge began in 2003. At Thursday’s meeting, councilmember O’Farrell reminisced about working on the project in the early 2000s, as a field deputy for then-City Councilmember Eric Garcetti.
“A few interesting ideas moved forward from those conversations, including the idea to put a footpath over the Red Car uprights that had been taken away back in 1959,” said O’Farrell. “Out of that, as a deputy, I started convening meetings about what that could look like. Though the years, that’s taken on a whole new meaning, and has now become a community benefit aspect to get people across the bridge safely by foot or bicycle. It’s going to be so important.”