Design by the firm HNTB retains elements of the original bridge, which is distinguished by its double arches./ Image courtesy of Council District 14

Almost four years behind schedule and more than $160 million over budget, the Sixth Street Viaduct connecting Boyle Heights with the Arts District and downtown Los Angeles will finally open next month.

Pedestrians and bikers will be allowed to cross the new, $588 million bridge during a two-day community celebration of the structure’s completion on the weekend of July 9 and 10. Wednesday’s anticipated announcement was made by Councilmember Kevin De León, who said the bridge opening will “usher in a new era for Los Angeles.”

“Once again, this bridge will take its place as one of Los Angeles’ most iconic landmarks connecting the Arts District and Boyle Heights,” De León said in a released statement. “This celebration will be a tribute to the years of dedicated work that went into creating one of the most inspiring public works projects in our City’s history.”

The first public event will take place on Saturday July 9th, from 2 to 9 pm, and will be open only to pedestrians. There will be musical performances from Ozomatli, La Sonora Dinamita and other acts, a celebration of the city’s vehicular history, 100 Years of Cars, that will include vintage and lowrider cars, and an array of food trucks and handmade arts and crafts vendors. 

One of the musical acts scheduled for the opening party, Buyepongo, actually performed at a farewell party for the original 1932 bridge held in October of 2015. Saturday’s celebration will end with a lighting of the bridge arches and a fireworks display.

Entry to the event will be from the Eastside, at Boyle Avenue and Whittier Boulevard. While Saturday’s event is free and open to the public, attendees must register at Evenbrite for e-tickets. 

On Sunday, July 10th, the viaduct will be open to bikes and pedestrians from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pedestrians will be asked to stay on the sidewalks and bikes will have use of all lanes. This week, The Eastsider reported that motorized vehicles will be able to cross the bridge starting at 7 pm on July 10.

The announcement did not say if the bridge would open to commuters on motorized vehicles on Monday, July 11. A media event will also be held on Friday, July 8, but no details were offered on Wednesday.

City officials said the bridge over the Los Angeles river had irreparable damage and was vulnerable to earthquake damage when it closed it in early 2016 and began its demolition shortly thereafter. At the time, the new bridge was budgeted at $420 million and it was expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Developed by HNTB and architect Michael Maltzan, the design of the new bridge is known as the “Ribbon of Light” and includes 10 sets of LED-lit arches that can change color. The design includes sidewalks and protected bike lanes on both sides, a helical ramp in Boyle Heights that connects to both North and South sides of the bridge, another ramp on the West side by Mateo Street, plus five additional sets of stairs connecting it to the ground under the viaduct.

Next year, the city is expected to begin construction of a 12-acre park underneath the structure –at an additional cost of $40 million.

This post was updated on June 17 to add details.

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Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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