Drivers beware: Famous LA bridge has begun coming down

AP News
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Posted: Feb 06, 2016 1:21 AM
Drivers beware: Famous LA bridge has begun coming down

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Like a bad love song, the weekend demolition of a bridge made famous by the movies is killing the traffic mood in Los Angeles.

Destruction of the 6th Street Bridge, a supporting player in so many chase scenes down the concrete-lined Los Angeles River, began Friday night where it crosses U.S. Highway 101, a vital route in and out of downtown that must close to do the work.

These days, no foreseeable traffic nightmare escapes its own odd branding in Los Angeles.

This one had been dubbed the #101slowjam on Twitter and is expected to drag on for 40 hours. If all goes well, the 2.5 miles of affected freeway will reopen Sunday, just before the Super Bowl kicks off.

Eventually, the entire 3,500-foot bridge will be replaced by a new roadway that has the potential to become another Hollywood backdrop. A 2019 opening has been set after $449 million in work.

Public officials are spreading the word of the closure with plays on the slow jam brand.

"Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to get your haaaands dirty to build somethin' beautiful," Mayor Eric Garcetti crooned in a public service spot that ended with the suited mayor thanking the Theodore Roosevelt High School jazz band arrayed behind him for "making that slightly less awkward."

The bridge connects the Arts District on downtown's eastern fringe with Boyle Heights, a working-class, heavily Mexican neighborhood. The impending demise of the span has prompted an outpouring of nostalgia, including organized cruising by fleets of low riders.

Considered state-of-the-art when it was built in 1932, the bridge has been suffering from a chemical reaction that for decades has weakened its concrete.

Arches above the roadway of the new span are designed to resemble the intermittent arcs of a stone skipping across water. It's hard to skip a stone over the Los Angeles River, which is just a trickle when it's not channeling torrents of storm water to the Pacific Ocean.

Its concrete bottom and sides are a Hollywood favorite; the bridge has been in countless films. Think rival gang members Danny and Leo racing in "Grease" or big chases in "Terminator 2" and "Gone in 60 Seconds."

The #101slowjam is the latest in a series of projects to rebuild the city's transportation infrastructure that have drawn nicknames. The tradition began in 2011 with "Carmageddon," the closure of another freeway to demolish and replace a bridge on the west side.

This being Hollywood, there will be a sequel to #101slowjam when a new 6th Street Bridge is built: The 101 freeway will be closed again.

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Watch Mayor Eric Garcetti's public service announcement: https://twitter.com/lamayorsoffice

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Contact Justin Pritchard at http://twitter.com/lalanewsman.