By Tammye McDuff
The Firestone Boulevard Bridge replacement junction of the San Gabriel River is an $11 million dollar renovation and a joint effort between the City of Downey and the city of Norwalk, “It has been a long time in coming, but the bridge has turned out to be a beautiful renovation for our city,” said Mayor Luis Marquez at the Nov. 24 ribbon cutting.
The bridge was originally constructed in 1934. After decades of increasing traffic, the load of wear and tear almost rendered the bridge obsolete and in need of replacement.
The roadway had 3 lanes of traffic in each direction with a 2’-0” center median and 3’-6” sidewalk on each side and no shoulder or bicycle lanes. With the large traffic volume, and no shoulders, the lane widths were found to be substandard and the wood barrier rails did not meet current safety codes.
Construction began in early 2014 and the bridge was completed in approximately 20 months. The bridge can now accommodate an approximate 40,000 vehicles per day.
The renovations include a wider 6-lane roadway, with safety enhancements and pedestrian facilities. The bridge architecture features decorative columns and railings. The columns are illuminated at night with multi colored LED lights that can be programmed to support holiday themes. The project also features median islands with date palm trees and drought tolerant plants. The new bridge also features Downey monument signs as a welcome into the city.
“This is a momentous occasion for us,” stated Councilman Fernando Vasquez,” I was asked recently why spend so much money for a bridge upgrade. We have had a huge challenge with capital improvements nationwide. The city took appropriate action to plan ahead instead of waiting for possibly devastating accidents, and reinforce a bridge that was severely depleted.”
Bicycle lanes will be added in the near future. Councilman Sean Ashton added,” Just to see the improvements that have been added is a bridge we can be proud of. This is a quality project.”
The Firestone Boulevard Bridge, located on Firestone Boulevard over the San Gabriel River adjoins the city boundaries between Norwalk and Downey in the southeast portion of Los Angeles County.
In March 2014 the City of Norwalk awarded a contract to Reyes Construction of Pomona in the amount of $7,586,493 for the construction of the bridge. At that time, based on the bid from Reyes, the total estimated coast of the project, including construction engineering, contract administration and contingency was approximately $9.5 million. The project was to be funded through a federal grant, endowing a little more than 88% of the project cost. Through a discretionary grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority the remaining 11% was funded. The project was due to be completed December 2015 and was right on schedule.