The Iconic 6th street bridge in Downtown Los Angeles is finally being torn down this weekend. The 101 freeway is being closed for a whole weekend to ensure safe removal of the 84 year old viaduct. The bridge has been used in countless films, TV show and music videos over the years and is instantly recognizable as somewhere in LA. It spans two freeways, the LA river, two different sets of rail tracks and numerous streets. A poor choice in concrete when this bridge was built in the 1930’s lead to chemical reaction some 20 years later causing the structure to weaken, experts estimate that the bridge would have a 70% chance of collapsing in a major earthquake. It is because of its impending demolition that I’ve took some time out and taken a few shots while I still had time.
One of the first images I captured on the bridge (photo above) was back in 2007 and continues to be one of my most popular images to date, going back last month its easy to see why the bridge needs to be demolished, not only is it in disrepair but at certain points you can see through gaps in the pathway onto whatever is below. I got lucky this time as the Good Year blimp gave a fly-by just after the sun had set. It will be sad to see this one go, it was one of the first places I came to shoot here in LA almost 10 years ago.
During the construction of 6th street bridge 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 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. After initial demolition plans were delayed, the bridge was closed on January 27, 2016, and demolition began on February 5, 2016. It took nine months to demolish the existing bridge.