Spring Street Historic Bridge Threatened

June 1, 2010 § 4 Comments

Attend a hearing tomorrow to tell the city not to tear down the historic North Spring Street Bridge. Photo from city of Los Angeles historic cultural monuments website

This alert, reproduced in full below, came in from the Los Angeles Conservancy. The city is planning to tear down the gorgeous historic 1927 Spring Street Bridge and build a wholly unecessary doubly-wide bridge in its place. The L.A. Conservancy and L.A. Creek Freak encourage folks to come to the Board of Public Works hearing tomorrow morning at 9:30am at Los Angeles City Hall. Details below.

The L.A. Conservancy has plenty of good background information. I would just add two quick points:

1 – The city’s Bureau of Engineering has stated that the purpose of these wrongheaded widening projects are needed to upgrade these bridges to current earthquake standards. The bridge was already completely retrofitted for earthquake safety in 1992. The current project is unecessary. This bridge was already retrofitted!

2 – The massive widening has been justified on the grounds of adding bike lanes. As a bicyclist, I strongly state – don’t do this in our name, and don’t justify your highway project on our backs. Bicyclists are not asking for this project. Bicyclists oppose the project. It’s not necessary to tear out this bridge to make it safe for bicyclists. In fact, widening this bridge to unecessary freeway widths will speed up car traffic. Those fast-moving cars are deadly for bikes and pedestrians. Bicyclists will be safer with the narrow car lanes and the relatively slow car speeds that those lanes result in. As planned in the draft of the city’s excellent Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan, this bridge can be made much safer by doing what’s called a road diet. Preserve the existing bridge, and reduce the number of car travel lanes. This should be extended southward on this road – along Los Angeles State Historic Park (aka the Cornfields) and connecting with the Chinatown Gold Line Metro Station. We need to make these roads, at our river and our parks, safer and more friendly for bicycling and walking… and that means not widening them.

Here’s the full alert, also available at the L.A. Conservancy’s website:

ACTION ALERT:

Historic North Spring St. Viaduct Threatened
Public Hearing Wednesday, June 2
Please attend and/or write to show your support
What: Board of Public Works Meeting
Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Time: Arrive by 9:30 a.m.
Location: Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Room 350 (Edward R. Roybal Board of Public Works Session Room)
Los Angeles, CA  90012
Valid photo I.D. required for entry
Parking: Los Angeles Mall (enter from N. Los Angeles Street between Aliso and Temple) [Creak Freak adds: take Metro – 2 blocks from Civic Center Red Line Station – or ride your bike.]
City Hall map, directions, and parking info
Meeting agenda (This is Agenda Item #6)

The Los Angeles Conservancy needs your help to stop the destruction of one of the city’s most iconic bridges over the Los Angeles River.  The Bureau of Engineering (BOE) is rushing to approve a project that would dramatically widen the 1927 North Spring Street Viaduct (a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument) – nearly doubling its width, stripping away all historic ornamentation, and eliminating the bridge’s eligibility as a city monument. 
The Conservancy has been pushing for an alternative that would retrofit the historic bridge and construct a separate pedestrian-cyclist bridge alongside it.  The Conservancy, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, and residents from communities on both sides of the river are protesting the project. Yet our voices have been largely excluded from the planning process.  Please attend the Board of Public Works meeting this Wednesday, June 2 to voice your opposition. Now is the time to act!
It will be critical to have a large turnout of supporters at this meeting, so please attend if at all possible, even if you don’t want to speak.
Below are some talking points that you can use if you wish to address the Board of Public Works. We encourage you to state your personal opinion in addition to, or instead of, these points. If you have any questions, please contact Mike Buhler, the Conservancy’s director of advocacy, at mbuhler@laconservancy.org or (213) 430-4203.
If you absolutely cannot attend the meeting, please submit your comments in writing by Tuesday afternoon, June 1. Please see address information below the talking points. Many thanks for your support.

What’s At Stake

After languishing for years, the proposed widening of the North Spring Street Viaduct is suddenly on the fast track for approval. Although environmental review for the project started nearly four years ago, the project is now on an extraordinarily accelerated timeline, with the BOE rushing to receive City Council approval by June in order to keep state matching funds that are about to expire. 
The BOE’s primary justification for the project is to upgrade the bridge to meet “major highway standards” and to add pedestrian-bicycle lanes in both directions. In addition to stripping all existing ornamentation, the scale and dimensions of the bridge will be dramatically altered by nearly doubling its current width from 50 feet to 90 feet.  No new traffic lanes will be added. 

What We Are Calling For

1)  Preserve the North Spring Street Viaduct’s status as a Historic-Cultural Monument.
The environmental impact report for the project does not consider a single alternative that would maintain the bridge’s status as a Historic-Cultural Monument.  With several historic Los Angeles River bridges slated for widening or replacement, we need to take a stand now, for today and for future generations. The loss of this bridge would deface the architectural landscape of Los Angeles.  

2)  Build a separate pedestrian-cyclist bridge alongside the North Spring Street Viaduct.  Pedestrian and bicycle access can be provided with a stand-alone bridge alongside it.  The BOE says it’s not possible, even though it plans to build a pedestrian bridge next to historic Riverside-Zoo Drive Bridge.
The city recently acquired six acres on the Los Angeles River next to Downey Park in Lincoln Heights. The property is slated to become a park to serve the Lincoln Heights community.  A stand-alone pedestrian-cyclist bridge could connect directly to this park. For more information, visit the Albion Park Project website.

3)  Enhance connectivity and safety for communities in Lincoln Heights and William Mead Housing.  A pedestrian-cyclist bridge would provide greater safety for children, adults, and cyclists crossing the river by separating them from vehicular traffic.

More information about the North Spring Street Viaduct on our website.

Please submit comments to:
President Cynthia Ruiz and Members of the Board
City of Los Angeles, Board of Public Works
Attn: James Gibson, Executive Officer
Room 361-P, Mailstop 464
200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012-4801
Fax (213) 978-0278
Email james.gibson@lacity.org

Please send a copy to Karina Muniz, the Conservancy’s Community Outreach Coordinator, at kmuniz@laconservancy.org
Many thanks!

Creek Freak thanks the conservancy for leading the charge on this critical issue!

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