Home Current Events Riverside Drive bridge, roundabout open to mixed reactions

Riverside Drive bridge, roundabout open to mixed reactions

A new bridge over the Los Angeles River at Riverside Drive was touted by city leaders Monday for its “modern” pedestrian and bike-friendly features, but noticeably missing from all the fanfare was the support of those who normally advocate for such amenities.

Despite the bridge’s protected bike and pedestrian lanes, and its role in filling in a gap in the Los Angeles River bikeway between the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles, many of the advocates who usually show up to support such improvements were absent from a ribbon-cutting ceremony headlined by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Gil Cedillo.



The city’s plan to build the bridge in place of an older one built in 1929 was unpopular with some local architecture buffs who urged for preservation. The transportation designs also did not go far enough for some bicycling and pedestrian advocates. 

During the event, Garcetti took note of the bike and pedestrian lanes, but spoke more extensively about a new roundabout that sits at the southern end of the bridge, saying it’s expected to slow down traffic as cars enter. City officials pointed out that it is the first “modern” one to be built in Los Angeles, though there are some older-model roundabouts that already exist in the city.



Garcetti framed the new 1,200 foot span, which was built with $60 million in federal, state and local money, in lofty terms, saying its construction was part of “a larger movement to knit together our communities and our people, to more deeply connect with one another, whether it’s culturally, whether it’s the way we move throughout the city.”

But for some who had envisioned a bridge befitting grand description, what was ultimately debuted by city leaders today amounted to a disappointment, with architect and northeast Los Angeles resident Daveed Kapoor calling the bridge a “lost opportunity.”



The 37-year-old said he is still frustrated about the design of the bridge, in particular the “prison”-like guardrails, saying the architecture pales in comparison to others along the Los Angeles River.

But Kapoor, who lives a 10 minute’s walk away from the bridge, said he is ultimately glad that a bridge of some kind was built. After reading about it on a local news blog, Eastsider LA, he said he wanted to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony to gain “closure.”

Others were much more jazzed about the new bridge, which was unveiled along with a new public art sculpture at its southern entrance and has dedicated walkways and bike paths where there once was only a four-foot-wide sidewalk.

Cynthia Juno, 58, who lives a short walk away, said she is thinking of organizing a family bike ride to catch views of the Elysian Valley, the Los Angeles River and the cargo trains that frequent the multiple rail yard tracks that run underneath.

The walking path and bike lanes are “a huge deal for us because this bridge was formerly very unsafe, especially for bicyclists and for pedestrians,” Juno said. “I have driven across it many times and have been afraid for many pedestrians who cross it.”

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from 4/22-4/28
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