Under the strong Monday morning sun, local officials celebrated the official start of construction on a bright orange pedestrian and bike bridge that will connect Elysian Valley and Cypress Park across the Los Angeles River.
In the past, “we’ve built infrastructure to slice through our communities,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti as jackhammers and earth movers clanged in the concrete channel behind him. “Today, we get our revenge: We get infrastructure that helps the community, that connects neighborhoods.”
The bridge will not only link the two neighborhoods but also the destinations within them—the LA River Bike path on the Frogtown side of the river will soon hook up with the future Taylor Yard G2 River Park—a 42-acre park planned on the Cypress Park side of the river—and the Sonia Sotomayor High School near the park site.
“Projects like this are a key part of a comprehensive transportation system and make it safer and easier for people in historically underinvested communities to get to where they need to go,” Metro CEO Phil Washington said in a statement.
Designed by Studio Pali Fekete Architects (SPF:a), the 400-foot-long bridge will take about two years to build (construction has to pause during rainy months of the year). Its construction will cost $20.6 million and be paid for entirely by Metro.
The city purchased the Taylor Yard G2 parcel in 2017 for $59.3 million and has been at work since then to secure funding to clean up the site, which was a former Union Pacific railroad maintenance yard, and redevelop it as a park.
On Wednesday, the city’s sanitation bureau announced the project got a modest boost in the form of a $500,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which will help the city inch closer to paying for the costly clean-up.
The EPA grant is specifically for improving a brownfield site within Taylor Yard. The brownfield is a 12.5-acre segment of the future park that’s especially polluted with metals, arsenic, and a number of other dangerous substances related to its previous industrial uses.
The full cost of remediating the entire 41-acre site was previously estimated to cost $120 million. Heather Johnson, a Bureau of Sanitation spokesperson, says that last summer the city conducted an analysis that will help “refine” that number. The city is using the information it gathered to identify other funding sources for the undertaking.
City officials are aiming to start remediation in the next year or two, Johnson says.
“New parks and expanded recreational opportunities along the river will improve the quality of life of all residents and visitors alike,” Kevin James, president of the city’s Board of Public Works, said in a statement announcing the grant. “In partnership with the EPA, we can ensure that the LA River of the future will be cleaner and greener.”