6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

High Line-ification of Riverside-Figueroa Bridge Study Falters on Unsupported Estimates; Seeks Public Support

Support Provided By
riversidebridge04.jpg

RAC Design Build's proposal to turn the steel portion of the Riverside-Figueroa bridge (a City Historical Cultural Monument) into an elevated park, similar to New York's much-lauded High Line, has up until this point met with enthusiasm, or at the very least open-minded curiosity in the community.

"I love the idea," said David De la Torre, chair of the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch, over the phone, "I think it would be a welcome addition to the recreational efforts in the community."

"It's a really cool idea," said Don Ward, a founding member of the Midnight Ridazz and Wolfpack Hustle cycling groups. "They did something like that in New York, which turned out to be awesome."

Additional comments on the popular Eastsider L.A. blog also echo this positive reception of the proposal.

Their positive attitude, however, hasn't yet quite reached the city's halls. In a meeting set between city council members, the Bureau of Engineering (who handles the current construction at the bridge) and RAC Design Build (RACDB) two weeks ago, it seemed indecision reigned, fueled by off-the-cuff estimates of how much such a change in the current plan would cost the city.

The meeting was ostensibly set up to discuss greenlighting a scoping study that would once and for all determine how much RACDB's proposal could cost the city, if implemented. But rather than a fruitful meeting, backed with studied numbers and actual plans, they were presented with half-baked estimates, seemingly meant to discourage support.

"All the costs presented was merely speculation from BOE via the contractor," said Kevin Mulcahy, of RACDB. According to Mulcahy, the figures that were thrown out at the meeting had no firm grounding in reality -- it was essentially a gut check from contractors who had no time to think about the nitty-gritty costs such a project would actually entail, because they're busy making sure the current work on the Riverside-Figueroa bridge was going as scheduled. The unstudied figure given was $4.9 million, which even escalated as much as $12 million as discussions progressed and piles of miscellaneous costs were added. Again, these were pie in the sky figures with no foundation on actual study.

Proposed site for the bridge park
Proposed site for the bridge park
How the bridge park would connect to nearby attractions
How the bridge park would connect to nearby attractions

The situation was exacerbated by the projected logistical difficulties presented by the BOE -- difficulties that proved to be unfounded less than 24 hours later. "We basically sat around a table and they told us there was no way those cranes could get in there in that position. If we proceeded, it would drive up the cost," said Mulcahy. The next day, as Mulcahy was driving downtown for a meeting, he witnessed cranes doing work in the exact location "[BOE] swore they couldn't do the work in."

Faced with the specter of ballooning cost and impractical logistics, City Council District 13 hedged on pursuing the scoping report, a study that would have answered the project's glaring cost and feasibility questions. The city's reaction has perplexed community members.

"I think they're just making stuff up," adds Ward, "They seem to find money for ridiculous projects, like a $27-million pedestrian bridge over Lankershim. Where do they find that money? Who knows? It seems like it's all political will."

"What concerns me even more than not hearing more about the proposal, was that it appears that the idea was getting tanked by a city department that wasn't giving it the opportunity to be heard that it deserved," said Steve Appleton, president of the Elysian Valley Riverside Neighborhood Council.

RAC Design Build isn't yet ready to give up the quest to re-use a historic part of Los Angeles for the community's benefit, and they're hoping to get the community's vocal support for the project. Mulchay says optimistically, "It's not over 'til it's over."

The firm has released a second edition of their proposal, which highlights the bridge's possible future role in building Los Angeles connectivity, especially along the river. It is has also prepared a petition, so community members can better show their support to further investigate the possibility of realizing this project.

Show your support to investigate the actual costs of realizing this project here.

Renderings courtesy of RAC Design Build.

Support Provided By
Read More
Getty Images - Filibuster - Harry Reid

Kill the Senate Filibuster and Save a Bipartisan American West That Cares About the Environment

Former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid along with 18 Democratic senators say the filibuster may need to be reformed or abolished to break the partisan logjam holding up legislation on the most urgent crises facing our nation, including climate change.
Promo images for Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival films

2021 Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival: Tickets and Information

The third annual Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival is going virtual, from April 12-23.
Kai Anderson's power map of the environmental campaigns led by Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada during his long career in Congress.

Mapping Power and Strategy for Conservation Victories: An Interview with Kai Anderson

Kai Anderson’s eye-catching, multi-colored, hand-drawn thematic maps have developed a cult following in conservation circles in the American West. He walks us through a map he created of Sen. Harry Reid's major environmental campaigns.