A car driving on a section of Interstate 5 just north of Los Angeles struck a mountain lion named P-32 one early morning this past summer. The cat was once of a small population that has been tracked roaming Southern California wilderness areas. The death, while reported as “sad, but unsurprising,” drew attention to the close proximity of these animals. Our transportation and urban infrastructures draw unnatural lines through their natural habitats.
“On face value, in Southern California, getting rid of a freeway is sacrilegious,” said Brian Ulaszewski, executive director of nonprofit urban design studio, CityFabrick. Yet that’s just what officials in Long Beach are preparing to do, joining a growing number of international cities looking at highway removal. Using funds from the California Department of Transportation’s Environmental Justice Grant Program, the city, along with CityFabrick, will convert a one-mile stretch of the Terminal Island Freeway into a local road surrounded by more than 20 acres of parkland.
You may have heard that the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is being replaced. (Technically the west span is being retrofitted and the east span is being replaced.) But the $6.3 billion project, which has been underway since 2002, has hit a snag: We learn via the Sacramento Bee that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has fired two employees after a Bee investigation showed that the technician responsible for testing the new bridge foundation’s structural integrity falsified and fabricated test results on other projects. The two fired were: Duane Wiles,who tested foundations for bridges and other freeway structures and Brian Liebich, who supervised Wiles as chief of the agency’s Foundation Testing Branch. The Bee‘s investigation examined about 50,000 internal Caltrans reports and test data documents and reported that Caltrans officials knew about the problems for years, but never conducted a serious investigation. Oops. The new bridge is expected to open to the public by 2013. Hopefully.
California State Route 75 is getting a whole lot snazzier. The 2.5-mile-long San Diego–Coronado Bay Bridge is set to undergo the “largest interactive green energy lighting project in North America.” An international team led by London-based artist Peter Fink (FoRM Associates) and lighting designer Mark Major (Speirs + Major) plus the LA-based office of engineering consultant Buro Happold have won a worldwide contest to illuminate the iconic, swooping girder bridge, opened in 1969. Read More
Widely accepted as the greatest public radio station on the planet, KCRW is famous for its groundbreaking music played by DJs who are smarter, cooler and infinitely better dressers than you. But last week was a bitter one for LA as the station’s great Nic Harcourt hung up his headphones as music director. For those of you who are already missing Harcourt’s esoteric taste (sometimes a bit difficult to take at 9:03am even after a visit to Intelligensia), never fear: Thom Mayne has stepped into the booth.