Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Speed bumps will be installed on the Sixth Street Viaduct as city officials hope to mitigate the “dangerous speed displays and exhibitions” on the new bridge, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said July 26 at a police commission meeting.
A center median and fencing to discourage people from scaling the archways could also be installed soon on a temporary basis, according to Moore.
The $588 million bridge, which opened to the public on July 10 and connects Boyle Heights and the downtown Arts District, was closed July 24 for the third night in a row for what the Los Angeles Police Department characterized as “illegal activity.”
Police issued more than 57 citations and impounded six vehicles over a four-day span, according to Moore, who said the bridge has become known as a place where people come to “find their 15 minutes of fame” by climbing onto the bridge’s infrastructure, interrupting traffic and posting demonstrations on social media.
The majority of illegal activity is being committed by people who are not from the surrounding community, according to Moore.
Video on social media from last weekend showed drivers spinning their wheels and performing other antics on the bridge, leaving the pavement scarred.
Some people even crawled onto the ribbon-like arches that line the bridge to get elevated views of the action.
Other isolated incidents have included a man getting a haircut in the middle of the bridge July 20 and another shadow boxing while wearing a red cape. The driver of a car involved in a July 18 crash abandoned the damaged Dodge Charger on the bridge and fled on foot.
The incidents are “drawing finite resources, limited resources away from more pressing duties to ensure the safety of this location,” Moore said.
Overall, police have documented 657 street takeovers in Los Angeles so far this year. They have made 352 misdemeanor arrests, impounded 439 cars and issued more than 2,000 citations related to street racing and takeovers.
Moore placed some of the blame on commercials for high-end cars which show spinouts that are not safe for a city street.
“I ask all of us, including manufacturers of high-end, high-performance vehicles to exercise corporate responsibility in how they go about their work and what they promote,” Moore said. “We see the antics of people trying to replicate this, resulting in serious injuries and deaths and violence.”
Police made several arrests after street takeovers and other unruly behavior temporarily shut down the bridge July 22. In two cases, people were pointing green lasers at police officers.
Moore said there have been seven incidents involving lasers in July so far compared to one in June, noting that the trend was troubling.
The chief stressed that law enforcement can only do so much to address the repeated incidents on the bridge.
“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this,” Moore said. “Despite the hundreds of impounds and citations and arrests, we still see the proliferation of this. So I’m asking for the public’s help and support and assistance.”
The opening of the Sixth Street Viaduct marked a key milestone in a construction project that began in 2016 to replace a 1932-vintage structure.
The original bridge was an iconic Los Angeles landmark, seen in movies including “Grease” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” but its aging structure was deteriorating, leaving it seismically unsound.
The city Bureau of Engineering has said future plans call for the downtown side of the bridge to include a rain garden, a planted seating area, a play and performance lawn, a sculpture garden, a meadow, a dog play area, an adult fitness section, cafe and restrooms, a sloped river gateway, an urban forest and terraces.
On the Boyle Heights side, the park’s plans include a skateboard area, a meadow, a picnic area, a synthetic turf soccer field, flexible courts sized for basketball, futsal and volleyball, a play and performance lawn, a children’s play area, a promenade, a landscaped seating area, an adult fitness area, a rain garden, a dog play area and grilling spaces.