A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, to celebrate the opening of the new Burbank Blvd. Bridge.
Although this construction project was expected to last 14 to 16 months, for the past 20 months the bridge has been closed between San Fernando Blvd. and Front St. During this time, a California Department of Transportation crew constructed an improved bridge as part of a series of 1-5 improvement plans that have been in the making since the late 1990s.
The result is a ten-lane bridge with three lanes in each direction for through traffic, and two lanes in each direction for turning vehicles entering I-5. Both directions of the bridge contain a bike lane, and a sidewalk is included on the south side of the bridge. The reconstruction is a part of Caltrans and LA County’s Metropolitan Transportation Authorities improvements, along the Golden State Freeway Corridor Improvement Project.
The format of the event was inspired by the original bridge’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, which took place in 1961. Numerous Burbank dignitaries were in attendance at the celebration, including Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos, State Senator Anthony Portantino, State Assemblymember Laura Friedman, Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, and Burbank City Councilmembers Sharon Springer and Konstantine Anthony.
Frutos gave a speech to the crowd of attendees during the event before leading the ribbon-cutting procedures. He thanked the community for its patience in waiting for the project to be completed and expressed the great benefits the new bridge will offer to Burbank residents and all drivers passing through the city.
“All Burbank, its visitors and commuters, will find the reconstructed Burbank Bridge an easy-to-use and convenient infrastructure to get around the great City of Burbank, the media capital of the world,” Frutos said.
State Senator Anthony Portantino and 43rd District Assemblymember Laura Friedman spoke at the gathering and stated their excitement in witnessing the opening of the updated bridge. Friedman went on to thank the devoted construction workers who made the building of the interchange possible.
“The one group that I also want to really call out today are the very dedicated men and women who physically built this bridge, the men and women of Caltrans who have been working tirelessly and [in] sometimes dangerous conditions, all night long to get this huge, huge project built for the people of California,” Friedman said.
Lifelong Burbank resident and Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes mentioned the importance of locals being able to resume driving over the bridge, especially as the holidays are approaching and traffic is increasing.
“This is the lifeline of Burbank. Pretty much from the east side to the west side, you take the Burbank Bridge,” Talamantes said. “This is a great day for it to be finally done. We’re looking forward to it. I know a lot of the people that I’ve spoken to are looking forward to using the Burbank Bridge again, especially for the holiday season. This is an exciting day.”
While Caltrans Supervising Transportation Engineer Mark Archuleta gave his speech, he acknowledged numerous valuable contributors to the new bridge, including 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th District Transportation Deputy Dave Perry, Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian, Caltrans personnel, and participating contractors. Archuleta then announced that Caltrans hopes to open up carpool lanes of the 134 Freeway continuously to Santa Clarita by next spring for an extended HOV lane.
He also detailed some of the additions that Burbank drivers can anticipate as they travel along the finished bridge.
“We [have] added through lanes, and we also have double left-turn pockets to get on and off the ramps,” Archuleta said. “That’ll make the interchange better to navigate, and it has capacity. It also helps traffic get across from one side of Burbank to the other. We also have upgraded a lot of the safety features [and]…realigned the freeway, so that’s an enhancement which makes the bridge a little longer than the previous one.”
Following the ceremonial ribbon being cut by Frutos, the event ended with a group of classic cars being driven over the bridge by members of the Burbank car club, The Road Kings. Road Kings members Don Baldaseroni, Gary Arellano, and Karen Arellano participated in these drives with their vintage vehicles, as did Mayor Frutos and Vice Mayor Talamantes.
The bridge was officially opened to the public by 10 a.m. As this time approached, Frutos explained his joy in knowing that the Burbank community can now have greater access to all areas of the city with the bridge being accessible to drivers once again.
“Our city is no longer divided in half,” Frutos said. “People can now traverse over the Burbank Bridge, shop, [and] come to the movies…[It’s] just a more efficient way. We missed our bridge, we missed our Burbank Blvd.”
There is an important omission from this article, with regard to the brass era cars that were driven over the bridge last week. When the bridge was originally built, my father Gordon R. Howard drove his 1910 Thomas Flyer over the bridge as part of the opening ceremony. For that reason, the Historical Society asked my husband John Adamick to provide the car, as well as the 1912 Apperson Jackrabbit, to the reopening ceremony last week. There is considerable effort involved in preparing cars of this era for an event, as well as specific skill in driving them. The Historical Society deserves recognition of its role in the reopening ceremony. In addition, the drivers deserve mention: Ray Petri, longtime Burbank resident, drove the 1912 Apperson, and John Adamick drove the 1910 Thomas Flyer.
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