Gold Line basket bridge over 210 Freeway gets record fifth award – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The following story originally appeared on the San Gabriel Valley Tribune website on December 5, 2013.

Gold Line basket bridge over 210 Freeway gets record fifth award

By Steve Scauzillo

Motorists driving the 210 Freeway often don’t get it.

The 584-foot Gold Line Bridge near Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia includes two bulbous structures at each end that are designed to represent woven baskets used by native American people who once thrived in the San Gabriel Valley.

While many who drive underneath the massive concrete train-bridge don’t notice the representative art, or appreciate the engineering achievement, a lot of others have. Namely, those in the design and construction industry.

The Gold Line Bridge won “Best Project in Southern California” for highways and bridges Thursday from Engineering News-Record, a national trade journal on construction and design.

The award was presented by ENR at a conference in Long Beach to Habib Balian, chief executive officer of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority. Sharing in the award was AECOM, the lead architectural firm who implemented the concept from artist Andrew Leicester, and Skanska U.S.A., construction contractor.

The Authority is constructing the 11.5-mile extension of the L.A. to Pasadena Gold Line light-rail train from East Pasadena to Citrus Avenue in Azusa near Citrus College. The bridge, which cost about $18 million and spans the eastbound freeway lanes, was the first segment of the $735-million extension, known as Phase 2A.

The bridge was completed exactly one year ago. “It was on time and under budget,” Balian said.

While the ENR award may be the most prestigious, Balian said, the bridge has picked up a total of five awards. The other accolades were: 2013 Engineering Achievement Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies; Outstanding Public Civil Engineering Transportation Project over $10 million from The American Society of Civil Engineers; the 2013 Project Achievement Award from the Construction Management Association of America and the Distinguished Project Award from the Western Council of Construction Consumers.

“We’ve been recognized by both the design and engineering side but also by the construction side,” he said. “It may be the only Measure R project to receive awards like this.”

Measure R is a 2008 ballot measure approved by Los Angeles County voters to build transit projects by adding a half-cent to the sales tax for 30 years.

Balian said the bridge’s concept was incorporated from the beginning into the design, planning and construction. He said it was not an after thought but an integral part of the project.

The bridge’s two, 25-foot concrete baskets each have nine layers, including curved, cast molds that integrated glass and other gem-like rocks into the concrete mixture to give the baskets a sparkle effect.

The span includes a serpentine design, an homage to the western Diamondback snake and indicative of the curvilinear transit systems of Southern California.

One of the engineering challenges was to ferret out the exact location of an earthquake fault, known as the Raymond Fault. Once detected, the 11-feet diameter, 110-feet deep columns were strategically placed and then reinforced with 60-ton steel cages and 450 cubic yards of concrete.

Though the bridge will only carry trains, right now it is being used to transport trucks, supplies and equipment over the 210 Freeway to various work sites along the route, Balian said. “It was important to build this first. We turned the bridge over to the next contractor, Kiewit. They are using the bridge to haul dirt and material onto the freeway site.”

Phase 2A will include stations in Irwindale, Duarte, Arcadia, Monrovia and two in Azusa. Balian says construction is ongoing at all locations. He expects the project to be complete by September 2015.

The next extension, Phase 2B, is scheduled to run from Azusa to Montclair. The 12.3 mile-addition will cost $950 million and so far, only $36 million has been raised.

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