They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village—of public and private partners—to reconcile the competing interests of commerce and conservation. A recently reopened highway bridge in an oil-rich area of Los Angeles County represents just such an effort.
Half-owned by the City of Los Angeles and half by Culver City, the 150-foot structure leads to the last undeveloped remnants of land in the highly industrialized Baldwin Hills neighborhood and, eventually, a regional trail that runs seven miles through wetlands and other natural areas down to Santa Monica Bay. Renovating it to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists as well as vehicles kicked off the 30-year One Big Park plan to reshape Southern California’s urban outdoors.
Local sculptor Cliff Garten was asked to design panels that would illustrate this renewal. His solution: Vertical structural elements representing oil rigs link ¼-inch hard-anodized aluminum sheeting etched with the skin pattern of the native western fence lizard.
The $540,000 project was commissioned by the Baldwin Hills Conservancy using state grants and administered by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative, a nationally recognized model for revitalizing transit-dependent urban areas. (For more information on finding seed money for infrastructure improvements, see “Making transit-oriented development possible” and on page 32 of our January 2014 issue.)
Los Angeles County Public Works maintained the site during four years of construction. The county’s parks and recreation department maintains landscaping going forward.