The Sixth Street Viaduct closed to traffic early Wednesday so city Bureau of Engineering crews can prepare the bridge for demolition ahead of work next week that will require a 40-hour closure of the 101 Freeway.
One arch from the old bridge, built in 1932 and considered an important engineering achievement at the time, will be preserved during demolition and used in a community space that will be built underneath the bridge, said Rick Coca, an aide to Councilman Jose Huizar. Huizar, whose district includes the bridge, will take a "final walk" along the bridge Wednesday morning, along with the designer of its replacement, Michael Maltzan.
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Huizar will join Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials later in the day to discuss details about closures and detours related to the demolition. The 101 Freeway closure is scheduled to begin Feb. 5.
Demolition work is expected to last about nine months and be followed by a $449 million project to build a replacement bridge. The new bridge is anticipated to be completed by 2019 at the earliest. Maltzan's design of the new bridge includes references to the current bridge, including 10 pairs of arches.
The bridge, which joins Boyle Heights with downtown Los Angeles, is being replaced due to deterioration caused by a chemical reaction in the concrete.
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The longest of 14 historic bridges that provide passage over the Los Angeles River, the Sixth Street Viaduct became an iconic part of Los Angeles and made several appearances in film and TV shoots.
The bridge has been featured in the films "Terminator 2" and "Grease," TV shows "Lost" and "The Amazing Race" and music videos by Madonna, Kid Rock and Kanye West.
But a chemical reaction that caused the bridge's cement supports to deteriorate has long plagued the landmark.
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Restoration efforts never entirely fixed the problem and a 2004 seismic study determined the bridge has a "high vulnerability to failure" is a major earthquake.
It's history drew a crowd of about 100 people Tuesday night for one last photo and view a car club gathering in advance of the bridge's closure. Los Angeles police officers moved people off the bridge so city crews could begin putting up fencing to keep the span clear, the LAPD reported.
Officials said last year that the bridge would be demolished due to its erosion and the likelihood it could collapse during an earthquake. A new bridge is expected to replace Sixth Street bridge when it debuts in 2018.
The bridge closure and project will mean detours for drivers. A 2.5-mile portion of the 101 Freeway is slated to close for almost two days beginning Feb. 5.
The February closure will affect the 10 to 101 Freeways transition, up to the 5, 10, and 101 Freeways interchange just south of downtown Los Angeles. The closure is expected to last about 40 hours, according to a news release from Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering.
The Bureau of Engineering released several detour routes and a map to help drivers during the temporary freeway closure.