LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles’ newest bridge, a $588 million architectural marvel with views of the downtown skyline, opened to much fanfare on July 10. It has already been closed, much to the dismay, several times since then amid the chaos. and crashes.
The 6th Street Viaduct – which spans the concrete-lined Los Angeles River to connect downtown to the historic Eastside – has quickly become a hotspot for street racing, graffiti and illegal takeovers that attract hundreds of spectators to watch the drivers perform dangerous stunts in their vehicles.
Social media stunts also abounded – in one case a man sat down in a barber chair for a haircut in the middle of the alleys. And the accidents keep piling up, including a three-car collision where a driver, who had participated in a street takeover, left his white Dodge Challenger and fled the scene. Later he surrendered.
The Los Angeles Police Department has closed the bridge multiple times – an exact count was not available Wednesday – and in the latest move, announced Tuesday it would be “closed until further notice due to illegal activities and public safety concerns” before going back and reopening it a few hours later.
Authorities hope to install speed bumps, safety barriers and cameras on the less than three-week-old bridge to limit behavior. Meanwhile, officers confiscate the vehicles and issue tickets.
“We ask everyone to pause and recognize that this is a figure or a place in Los Angeles that we all want to be proud of,” Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday. . “We want to show the world that we are a world-class city, that we can have these kinds of features and that we can take care of them, respect them.”
The bridge spans 3,500 feet (1,066.80 meters) from the hip arts district to Boyle Heights, a traditional working-class Latino neighborhood, in the tallest and most expensive bridge ever built in the city.
Known as the “Ribbon of Light” for its thousands of LED lights and slanting arches – which once attracted pedestrians and daredevil skateboarders – it replaced an 84-year-old Art Deco bridge. This structure, seen in countless Hollywood films including ‘Grease’ and ‘Terminator 2’, was demolished in 2016 after a chemical reaction weakened its concrete for decades.
Mayor Eric Garcetti called the new bridge “our generation’s love letter to the city” during its opening weekend.
“While the mayor recognizes that the celebration of this bridge is extremely positive, he has zero tolerance for behaviors that prevent Angelenos from enjoying this new landmark,” said Harrison Wollman, Garcetti’s press secretary, in a statement Wednesday. “The City is reviewing additional security options and taking immediate action to ensure the bridge is safe and accessible to everyone.”
John Yi, executive director of pedestrian advocacy nonprofit Los Angeles Walks, said the bridge was not built to optimize safety for pedestrians and cyclists. It currently lacks a central median, for example, although discussions to add one are ongoing.
Yi said the closures are attempts by city leaders to reframe the discussion away from poor infrastructure and toward street runners and other risk takers.
“That’s the message the city is trying to send to the public: it’s not our fault, it’s their fault,” he said.
But Yi said the design of the bridge was flawed from the start: “If you provide a concrete gymnasium in the jungle, that’s how people will use it.”