Construction Today - July 2016 - 46

Civil | SKANSKA USA - 6TH STREET VIADUCT

Ribbon of Light

SKANSKA USA IS TAKING ON THE LARGEST BRIDGE PROJECT IN LA'S HISTORY. BY TIM O'CONNOR

L

os Angeles' 6th Street Viaduct is one
of the most iconic bridges in movie
history. It's where Danny Zuko races
Leo on Thunder Road at the end of
"Grease" and where the T-1000 begins his
hunt for John Connor in "Terminator 2." The
3,500-foot bridge stands in for San Diego,
acting as the backdrop for the news team
brawl in "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron
Burgundy." It's been featured in dozens of
other films, from giant-ant monster flick
"Them!" to "Repo Man" and "Drive."
Videogames have given their own homages to the famous structure. Players use it
to cross from east Los Angeles to downtown
in 1940s-era detective game "L.A. Noire" or
pull off dizzying stunts on the concrete Los
Angeles River that runs below the viaduct
in "Grand Theft Auto V."
Because movies are filmed at 24 frames
per second, the 6th Street Viaduct is one
of the most photographed bridges in the
world. Its twin arches have come to represent southern California as much as the
Hollywood sign or the Santa Monica Pier.
But it's an icon whose time has passed. The
bridge's structure has been crumbling for
decades and the city has been preparing to
replace it since the 2000s. That plan finally
went in effect last year as the 6th Street
Viaduct saw its last travelers and demolition
began in February.

iconic 6th Street Viaduct will
ยป The
be replaced wtih a more modern
and structurally stable bridge.

Freeway, Golden State Freeway and several
rail lines. About 23,000 vehicles crossed
the bridge every day before its closing,
according to the Los Angeles Department
of Transportation.
At the time of its construction, it used the
most modern building techniques available, including an on-site concrete mixing
plant. Like an unfortunate hereditary gene,

A Symbol of the City
The viaduct was built during the 1920s
and early '30s. It was designed by the city's
then-chief engineer, Merrill Butler, during
the City Beautiful movement, a design philosophy that sought to merge beauty and
function in American metropolises. Opening in 1932, the 6th Street Viaduct was the
last built and grandest of the monumental
Los Angeles River bridges of the era.
The road continued to play an important
role in the city's transportation network as
the city sprawl extended through the region, carrying travelers over the Santa Ana

46

CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM JULY 2016

Skanska USA -
6 Street Viaduct
www.usa.skanska.com
* Project cost: $449 million
* Location: Los Angeles

"This challenge epresents a are
opportunity to build a modern landmark for Los Angeles
at accommodates our modern
traffic needs."
- Mayor Eric Garce i

those methods led to a sort of structural
cancer in the viaduct. The on-site mixer
used water from the Los Angeles river to
mix the viaduct's concrete, resulting in a
high alkali content. Within 20 years of the
bridge's opening, it began experiencing an
alkali-silica reaction, causing deterioration
in the structure's cement supports.
For decades, the city patched the bridge
with metal plates. Even those fixes compromised its integrity over time, as the
heavy plates further weighed down the
two-thirds-of-a mile span. Seismic studies
completed by the California Department of
Transportation in 2004 showed the bridge
had a 70 percent chance of collapsing in the
next 50 years due to a major earthquake, far
higher than the normally accepted collapse
probability of 5 percent or less.

Replacing an Icon
The condition of the structure led the city
and preservation groups to agree the best


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Construction Today - July 2016

Contents
Construction Today - July 2016 - Cover1
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