A Wake for the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge


After more than half a year of vigorous campaigning, the saga to turn the unused steel part of the Riverside Bridge into an elevated park has officially ended.

Earlier this week Judge James C. Chalfant, a Los Angeles superior court judge deigned to issue a temporary restraining order, which would have prevented the scheduled demolition of the Figueroa-Riverside Bridge.

"The judge chided us for waiting until the last minute to seek the stay," said Tomas O'Grady, founder of Enrich L.A., a non-profit that has been working with Elysian Valley architects RAC Design Build on proposal. According to O'Grady, the judge has said actions should have been brought against the City of Los Angeles at least a year ago.

"This is no way to run a city government," added O'Grady. "Instead of offering good ideas to the city and working with the city, the judge effectively said that the only way to deal with the City of Los Angeles is to sue them, and sue them early. We acted in good faith and tried to work with the city up to the last week." Enrich L.A. had been trying to work with the city all along the process, up until the Board of Public Works voted against preserving the bridge for fear of jeopardizing federal funding for the new bridge.

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Deborah Weintraub, from the L.A. Bureau of Engineering, stated in a previous article why it was not feasible to save the bridge from demolition, citing, among other concerns, costs of up to $4.9 million just to stop demolition of the bridge and $15-20 million to convert a portion of the bridge into a park. Majority of the funding for the new bridge comes from the federal government, which makes any changes in the plans more difficult to make.

A portion of the old bridge will remain, however. The support arches along the west side of the L.A. River will not be demolished, which may raise hopes for proponents that advocate for a public space that utilizes the remaining historic structure.

More than 2,000 people signed the petition to support the bridge, a Los Angeles Historic Monument, but the effort did not change the outcome.

Enrich L.A. will be holding a wake for the Figueroa-Riverside Bridge, the last steel truss span bridge in Los Angeles, on Sunday, June 8, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs, frisbees, and sidewalk chalk in a picnic-style remembrance. The bridge is slated for demolition June 9 and will proceed until mid-August.


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