Are You Ready to Rubble?

“Rock Day L.A.” turns Sixth Street Bridge rubble into memorabilia

News West
(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Library of Congress / Brian Grogan)
(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Library of Congress / Brian Grogan)

Celebrating a peculiar form preservation, Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar and the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering will be teaming up on August 13th to host “Rock Day L.A.,” an event focused around handing out roughly 1,000 pieces of the iconic Sixth Street Bridge, currently under demolition. The event, held as part of the City’s effort to keep the public engaged with the $449 million project, will feature live music and food as officials hand out free chunks of the structure on a first-come, first-served basis. Each piece will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

The event, hosted on a Saturday morning to ensure public access, will mark another milestone in the Sixth Street Bridge’s replacement, as crews have spent the last six months methodically deconstructing one of L.A.’s most iconic structures.

Built in 1932 using an innovative-for-the-time, on-site concrete manufacturing plant, the Sixth Street Bridge was eventually found to be suffering from Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR), commonly referred to as “concrete cancer.” ASR is a malady that occurs when concrete is made with too much alkali content, setting off a chemical reaction between that alkali content and the concrete’s aggregate, resulting in a gel-like substance that weakens the structure. This chemical byproduct creates stress within the concrete itself, resulting in a brittle material that, given L.A.’s seismically active history, has the potential to cause catastrophic failure. The bridge was designated as a public safety hazard in 2011 when the Bureau of Engineering estimated that there was a 70% chance the bridge could collapse in a major earthquake over the next 50 years. The following year, an international design competition was held afterward to design a replacement.

The Sixth Street Bridge will be replaced by a HNTB and Michael Maltzan Architecture-designed structure that evokes the Art Deco original with its cascade of swoopy, cable-stayed supports. The new structure, due to be finished in 2019, will feature an array of public parks, plazas, and connections to the city’s Los Angeles River, which is also currently undergoing radical change and restoration.

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