The aptly named “Ribbon of Light” bridge, a replacement for the famous Los Angeles 6th Street Viaduct Bridge, has just been completed. Costing the city and taxpayers $588 million, the project is a much-anticipated update to the old bridge. The grand opening ceremony began peacefully, with an estimated 15,000 people in attendance, local food, a classic car show, and lots of city pride in the air. The excitement quickly turned into chaos in the days to come.
Car enthusiasts and LA history buffs alike were saddened to see the demolition of the original 6th Street Bridge (officially the 6th Street Viaduct) in 2016. The Eastside was created in 1932 as part of a project to help join the downtown arts district with the Boyle Heights neighborhood. The bridge was one of the more recognizable features in a city with so many iconic places. Plus, the 6th Street Bridge became legendary in LA car culture. Exclusively being featured in movies, TV shows and even in Ken Block’s Gymkhana 7.
As the bridge got older, not only did it feel rough around the edges, but it also became a risky scenario in the event of a major earthquake. The Bureau of Engineering broke ground on this stunning new replacement, seen here in 2017. 5 years and $588 million dollars later, the city of Los Angeles also has a new problem on its hands.
LAPD Closes Sixth Street Bridge in Just Two Weeks
By July 26, the LAPD was a message to the public on Twitter. The 6th Street Bridge was closed until further notice due to illegal activity and public concerns. It seems that within days of that magical grand opening, there was trouble brewing on the “Ribbon of Light” bridge. While there was most certainly illegal activity happening around the original area, the buzz in the air was giving rise to a new type of corruption.
“Street Takeover,” Already an Issue in LA, Arrive Early
One of the more notable events that occurred in the first week rapidly spread to social media. A white Dodge Challenger Hellcat is seen in the middle of the bridge doing donuts in typical street takeover style. Once the driver exits the smoke they can be seen speeding towards oncoming (stopped) traffic. While the Challenger is fishing on the road, the driver loses control and crashes into oncoming traffic. Incredibly, the driver gets out of the car and appears to be running. Though the suspect could not be identified, he later infiltrated himself.
LA has been dealing with these acquisitions for a long time. It doesn’t take much effort to find countless videos and images on social media about the events and the havoc it has caused. People being hit, thrown from cars and even physical violence seem to be a common place. California lawmakers are actively trying to start the legislature to criminalize the incidents. Nevertheless, they have become a constant issue that is spread across the state.
it’s not just the cars
As dramatic as the Hellcat in a Honda Civic is, there are plenty of other things that lead the LAPD to pull off. There is already someone who has been the first to skateboard under the arch shown above.
It wouldn’t be a famous LA bridge without some graffiti. The crew are working tirelessly to clean up the previous evening’s tag in the morning, only to find more the next day. ABC7 reports that the city council has approved a recommendation for a clean-up total of more than $700k.
A Quiet Re-opening of LA’s Expensive Bridge
As soon as the bridge was closed, it was deemed appropriate by the LAPD to reopen it. In fact, this cyclic open and close process was performed five separate times during the period from July 22 to July 26. Some people wonder what a real improvement could be. The Los Angeles Police Department has already made a bold statement. Heavy law enforcement presence and traffic cameras at the top of the list. But, will it fix anything? Of course with constant pressure the road will be more difficult to acquire. Still, locals worry that it could have the opposite effect.
The 6th Street Bridge has always been an important connection connecting the two parts of Los Angeles in a way that goes far beyond simple traffic control. Some fear that this half-billion-dollar bridge project combined with increased police presence will further damage the delicate socioeconomic divide from east to west that has plagued them for years. The city is convinced that this is not the case and is trying to do everything in its grasp to regain order and demonstrate that the city can indeed do “good things”.