Our recently completed Gold Line Bridge northeast of Los Angeles invokes that region’s heritage, making a strong case that cost-effective infrastructure doesn’t have to carry a utilitarian look. The nearly 600-foot-long concrete span, to carry a light rail line, is anchored by two, 25-foot-tall basket-like concrete columns that pay tribute to the indigenous people of the San Gabriel Valley and the oversize iconic roadside traditions of nearby Route 66. The $19.8 million bridge’s aerial guideway features intricately cast grooves and ribbing that mimic the patterns found on the Western Diamondback snake.
Photo source: Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority
“We were always emphasizing to the craft workers how important it was to get the details right,” said Lawrence Damore, Skanska’s project executive. “The quality of work these crews produced exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
But those architectural elements were not the most challenging part of the bridge, which was our first civil infrastructure design-build project in California. Rather, the toughest aspect was erecting the structure in a small footprint over the active I-210 freeway, which is five lanes wide at the bridge’s location. An additional hurdle is that the bridge spans an active earthquake fault; the seismic requirements necessitated more reinforcing bars, more post-tensioning and higher-strength concrete.
The worlds of infrastructure and art do not often get to mix, but the Gold Line Bridge demonstrates that, when both groups agree on a vision, the utilitarian and the artistic can push each other to achieve both functional and aesthetic success.