News | Delay in Maintenance Funding Becomes Latest Hurdle in Sixth Street Bridge Opening

Stop the Video



by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

The Los Angeles City Council decided on Friday to have the City Budget and Finance Committee consider $706,000 in funding to remove graffiti on the recently opened Sixth Street Bridge near Boyle Heights. After the Public Works Committee recommended to approve the funds toward maintaining the bridge a week earlier, the council decided to pass the item to Budget and Finance rather than vote on it during Friday’s meeting.


According to a report by ABC City News Service, Budget and Finance will consider additional funding sources to maintain the bridge due to “conflicting priorities,” referring to concerns within the council that the city was spending a disproportionate amount on opening and maintaining the bridge compared to other districts. 



Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Paul Krekorian stated that the committee would take up the item quickly, but the council’s decision will delay funding for maintenance on an infrastructure project that has quickly become the source of heavy local and national media attention. 


The bridge opened to the public on July 10th of this year, seven years after construction crews broke ground on a project to rebuild the old Sixth Street Bridge, which was constructed in 1932. The bridge’s design, featuring a deck with lanes for car, bike and pedestrian traffic between sleek concrete arches, was initially conceived by architect Michael Maltzan in 2012. The project ran $588 million in costs, receiving both federal and state funding.


After opening to public fanfare and a grand opening event, the bridge quickly became the site of street takeovers, arch-climbing stunts, and even a pop-up barber. These events generated safety concerns, as videos of multiple car crashes resulting from street takeovers began to surface on social media.


In response, the Los Angeles Police Department began intermittently closing the bridge and conducted a traffic enforcement operation on the bridge last week. “The mission of the operation is to deter criminal activity, arrest law violators, and conduct criminal investigations along the bridge,” stated LAPD in a press release.


City Councilmember Kevin de León, who represents Council District 14 where the bridge is located, has also taken aim at the recent activity on the bridge. “We’re not going to allow a small group of individuals to taint the image of the city or the bridge itself,” said De León recently in front of a group of reporters at City Hall.


De León has proposed an ordinance to prohibit some of the recent activities on the bridge including street takeovers, vandalism, and climbing the arches. He has also proposed a motion to have city departments investigate preventative measures on the bridge including surveillance cameras, periodic car traffic closures, and a long-term plan for security, staffing, and maintenance.


De León is also a member of the City Public Works Committee that proposed the $706,000 in funding to remove graffiti on the bridge, which would cover maintenance for an entire year. While the funding proposal goes through the Budget and Finance Committee, the city is taking other measures to clean up the area, including a cleaning effort by a crew from the city’s Gang Alternatives Plan under the Office of Community Beautification. 


Amid the bridge closures and uncertainty over its maintenance, city officials ultimately hope that its high profile incidents will dwindle over time and with increased abatement measures. According to ABC City News, De León’s office has no concerns over the additional maintenance funding and has reported a recent drop in graffiti attempts on the bridge.


About the Author:

Jacob is a second-year MPP student at the Price School of Public Policy. He is interested in urban policy and transportation planning issues. As a recent LA transplant, he enjoys exploring the area and the local food scene in his free time.