Sixth Street Viaduct

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6th Street Viaduct
Sixth Street Bridge over Los Angeles River.jpg
Sixth Street Bridge
Coordinates34°2′17″N 118°13′37″W / 34.03806°N 118.22694°W / 34.03806; -118.22694 (Sixth Street Viaduct)Coordinates: 34°2′17″N 118°13′37″W / 34.03806°N 118.22694°W / 34.03806; -118.22694 (Sixth Street Viaduct)
Carries6th Street/Whittier Boulevard
CrossesMetrolink tracks, Los Angeles River, Union Pacific Railroad tracks, Santa Ana Freeway, Golden State Freeway, several local streets
LocaleDowntown and Boyle Heights areas of Los Angeles, California
Official nameSixth Street Bridge from the LA River
Other name(s)6th Street Viaduct
Maintained byCity of Los Angeles and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
ID number53C-1880 (City of Los Angeles), 53-0595 (Caltrans)
MaterialReinforced concrete and steel
Total length3,500 feet (1,100 m)
Width46 feet (14 m)
Sixth Street Viaduct is located in California
Sixth Street Viaduct
Location in California

The Sixth Street Viaduct, also known as the Sixth Street Bridge, was a viaduct bridge that connected the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles with the Boyle Heights neighborhood. It spanned the Los Angeles River, the Santa Ana Freeway (US 101), and the Golden State Freeway (I-5), as well as Metrolink and Union Pacific railroad tracks and several local streets. Built in 1932, the viaduct was composed of three independent structures: the reinforced concrete west segment, the central steel arch segment over the river, and the reinforced concrete east segment. Over the years, the structure itself, surrounding areas, and the concrete banks of the Los Angeles River, became eyesores from years of residents vandalizing the area with graffiti, trash, human waste, and homeless encampments. In 1986, the Caltrans bridge survey found the Sixth Street Viaduct eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.[1]

Despite its historical status, the bridge was closed for demolition and replacement in January 2016 due to concerns over seismic instability.

Demolition and replacement[edit]

Demolition of the bridge in April 2016

During the construction of the viaduct in the 1930s, an onsite plant was used to supply the concrete for construction. However, the quality of the concrete turned out to have a high alkali content and led to an alkali-silica reaction (ASR) which created cracks in the concrete and sapped the strength of the structure. It is the only one of the historic LA River bridges to suffer from ASR.

Estimates stated that the viaduct had a 70% probability of collapse due to a major earthquake within 50 years.[2][3]

Transverse Arch Rib Floor Beam Construction - Bent 11
First stages of falsework looking west over the LA River

After initial demolition plans were delayed,[4] the bridge was closed on January 27, 2016, and demolition began on February 5, 2016. An estimated 48,000 cubic yards of concrete, 1,245 tons of structural steel and 4,200 tons of rebar were hauled away as construction began on the replacement.[5] The new bridge, designed by architect Michael Maltzan and the HNTB Design-Build team and contractors Skanska and Stacy and Witbeck,[6] is set to be completed in 2019. It took nine months to demolish the existing bridge. City leaders are also looking into building parks and plazas around the newly built bridge.

Prior to the demolition, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti recorded the R&B song "101SlowJam", backed by musicians from the city's Roosevelt High School, and issued it via a video on his own YouTube channel. The public service announcement video advertised the closure of parts of the 101 Freeway to accommodate the demolition of the viaduct.[7][8]

Cultural depictions[edit]

The bridge is a well-known local landmark, and has appeared in numerous films, television shows, music videos and video games since 1932.[9]


Music videos[edit]


Video games[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of the Sixth Street Viaduct". Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Sixth Street Viaduct has Cancer; Suggested Treatment: New Bridge". Southern California Public Radio. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Safety Concerns for Sixth Street Bridge". Los Angeles Downtown News. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Sixth Street Bridge gets temporary reprieve from demolition". The Eastsider LA. January 11, 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  5. ^ "New 6th Street Viaduct is a bridge to a different future". Los Angeles Times. June 1, 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project". NationBuilder. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  7. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 28, 2016). "[WATCH] 101 Freeway Closure: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Slow-Jams Reminder". Deadline. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  8. ^ #101SlowJam on YouTube
  9. ^ Koeppel, Dan (February 9, 2016). "Exit L.A.'s Most Cinematic Bridge". The Atlantic.

External links[edit]