Falling Down

Falling Down

Deterioration on LA’s 6th Street Bridge.
Yan Wang

Although Los Angeles

Map showing structural deficiency around Los Angeles.
Courtesy Transportation for America

Angelenos bought into the dream of the automobile earlier than most of the nation, with a local freeway plan implemented in the 1930s. The plan grew to into a full-blown car addiction when the comprehensive freeway plan of 1947 created the modern highway network. With an average lifespan of 50 years, it is easy to see why its bridges are crumbling after such use. The early obsession with the automobile has led to the region’s current hangover of constant upkeep, rehabilitation, and replacement of its bridges and highways. 

Understandably, given the 2011 Transportation for America report’s doomsday attitude, cynics might view the message as slightly exaggerated for the purpose of procuring funding for the cause. But other studies such as the recent ULI Infrastructure 2012 report back up the urgency for transportation funding, citing the global recession as the main culprit of declining infrastructural funds at local and national levels.

Compounded with the seismic vulnerability of the area, Los Angeles could be sitting on a ticking time bomb. After an earthquake all major intersections of the 10, the 5, the 405, and the 710 freeways could be closed due to seismic damage. 

Meanwhile, Los Angeles has been focusing its attention on new, iconic landmark bridges and large-scale transportation issues like the 6th Street Bridge and the just-opened Exposition Line. But the most pressing issue seems to be the decrepit and neglected commonplace landmarks that we traverse daily.