December 18, 2012

Calif. agency opens art/transit project

The Calif.-based Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority) marked the completion of the landmark Gold Line Bridge by giving guests a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk across the largest, single public art/transit infrastructure project in California, the 584-linear foot sculpture that will serve as the Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley.

The Gold Line Bridge spans the eastbound lanes of the I-210 freeway northeast of Los Angeles and is the most visible element of the 11.5-mile Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project the Construction Authority is building between Pasadena and Azusa.

The Construction Authority completed the first ever artist-designed transit bridge in California, on time and on budget; and celebrated this milestone with a ceremony honoring the men and women who designed and built the bridge.

Designed by award-winning artist Andrew Leicester, the Gold Line Bridge is anchored by two, 25-foot “baskets” that pay tribute to the indigenous peoples of the San Gabriel Valley and the oversize iconic roadside traditions of nearby Route 66. The distinctive bridge has a serpentine main underbelly featuring casted grooves and hatch marks that simulate the patterns found on the Western Diamondback snake, metaphorically referencing the spine of the transit system.

The project is the first to incorporate such intricate design, structural and architectural elements into transit infrastructure. The Construction Authority re-imagined the design process for the dual-track bridge, making it possible for the art to lead the design and engineering. This groundbreaking collaboration resulted in the creation of a sculptural light rail bridge built for the same cost ($18.6 million) as was originally estimated for a typical light rail structure.

The Construction Authority brought the artist on early to lead the design process, before the design-build team was selected — the first time such an approach has been used on a Caltrans infrastructure project. In 2009, the agency issued a national call for artists. A committee of community stakeholders then selected Leicester from a group of 15 highly qualified public artists. Leicester spent several months developing design concepts for the bridge in advance of the architects, engineers and builders beginning their work.

 

As the design concept adviser, Leicester worked alongside Los Angeles-based design consultant, AECOM, and the bridge’s builder, Skanska USA, to ensure the final design and construction were true to the overall vision.

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