The list of potential pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly bridges coming to a stretch of the Los Angeles River in northeast Los Angeles continues to grow with the recent announcement of a new $20 million span. The latest bridge would cross between the City of Glendale and L.A.’s Griffith Park, connecting over the L.A. River bed and Interstate-5. Designs for the proposed pedestrian link by T.Y. Lin International Group and the City of Glendale call for a winding, board-formed concrete span topped by distinctive white metal trellises. The trellises would be surrounded by integrated seating areas and planting beds. Plans for the exact location of the bridge are currently under discussion, and the city has released three potential sites. The bridge would only be built if a statewide voter referendum is approved for the ballot this year and is majority-supported in 2018. Laura Friedman, a local California Assemblyperson backing the project, said in a press release: “The bridge isn’t just a link between neighborhoods, it’s connecting people with open space, miles of bike paths, and economic opportunity, all while creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and congestion on our streets and freeways.” The bridge joins a pair of other proposals, including a $16.1-million scheme for the North Atwater Multimodal Bridge roughly a mile south that is also being developed by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering (BoE) on behalf of the City of Los Angeles. Funds for the bridge include a donation from developer Morton La Kretz, a grant from the Caltrans Active Transportation Program, and City of L.A. funding, among others. The bridge, designed by Buro Happold, is 325-foot-long and utilizes cable-stayed technology to span over the L.A. River. The bridge was initially donated by La Kretz, but project costs have spiraled out of control and now far exceed the initial donation amount. It is expected that the cost of the bridge will now be borne by taxpayers. The bridge is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2019. The Taylor Yard Bridge—designed by Studio Pali Fekete Architects— and is also planned for a nearby stretch of the river. The 400-foot-long $19 million bridge would span between the Elysian Valley neighborhood and Taylor Yard, which is currently being vetted for redevelopment. The bridge features a metal truss frame and contains an outlook at the center of the crossing. The bridge is expected to enter construction in 2018. Once these projects are completed, traveling between northeast Los Angeles and all points west of the L.A. River will be much easier than it is today. This post has been updated.
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“We got very attracted to the project, and to the idea of making something that reconnects Los Angeles,” Zoltan Pali said of Taylor Yard Bridge, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge designed by his firm, Studio Pali Fekete architects (SPF:a). Originally introduced as part of a mitigations package twenty-two years ago, the bridge, which will span the Los Angeles River between Cypress Park and Elysian Valley, should be completed within two years at a cost of $5.3 million. “Frankly bridges are a very interesting topic,” Pali said. “It’s also one of those types of things that you can design ten bridges in ten minutes, there’s so many different ways of looking at it.” In the case of the Taylor Yard Bridge, the designers faced a unique set of challenges. Large power lines on the Taylor Yard side of the 360-foot span limited the height of the bridge. Also on the Taylor Yard side is a maintenance road, hampering access to the riverbank; on the opposite side is a narrow bike path. Finally, the two banks are about ten feet apart in height, necessitating a 3 percent grade. “[We] had a lot of issues we had to deal with from the standpoint of geometry,” Pali said. To deal with those concerns, and to minimize construction time, Pali and his colleagues chose a lightweight steel construction that eliminated the need for supports in the river bed. The body of the bridge is a 30-foot-by-30-foot box truss, painted orange. A DWP recycled water pipeline, painted purple, will provide a contrasting splash of color. The 17-foot-wide road platform, designed with lanes for pedestrian and bicycle use, “kind of floats, almost seems as if it’s suspended” within the truss, Pali said. The Taylor Yard Bridge is more than just a solution to a set of practical problems. It’s also Pali’s way of pushing back against over-the-top bridge designs. “Truth be told, we really wanted to have a counterpoint philosophically and architecturally from the sort of heroics that lots of folks go through to make bridges,” he explained. The designers aimed for “simplicity, elegance. We wanted to refer to those really beautiful, utilitarian bridges you see around the world, plus the railroad bridges that used to span the LA River. Just do what you need.”