6 Quirky Facts About the Gold Line Bridge

Snakes, baskets, and Route 66: What you wouldn’t know by looking at the San Gabriel Valley’s brand-new overpass

1. Artist-designer Andrew Leicester and the Construction Authority think of the bridge as a symbolic gateway to the San Gabriel Valley. “L.A. is all about freeways and bridges,” Leicester says. “There was a tremendous opportunity here.”

2. When he started his design research, Leicester looked at the history of travel in the area—places like Route 66 with its famous and memorable Americana architecture—for inspiration. “I made a point to talk to people,” he says. ”They have these anecdotes and myths and legends [about L.A.]. I pursued those stories to see if they had possibilities of visualizing in some way.”

3. The bridge’s baskets (there’s one on each end) represent the Native Americans and the growth of agriculture as a catalyst to the San Gabriel Valley.

4. In keeping with the theme of San Gabriel’s natural history, the diamond back snake (which is native to California) regales the body of the bridge. The snake’s diamond-patterned skin is reflected on the sides of the carriageway, while the overpass’s design is intended to resemble its skeleton.

5. The bridge rises above an active earthquake fault. There was concern that if any of its components were “too moveable” or too tall, the bridge could buckle during an earthquake, so the bridge was constructed of one low-maintenance material: concrete. “At one point, there was water in the design scheme,” says Leicester.

6. Leicester and the Construction Authority hope to develop a mobile app that would allow users to manipulate the color of the bridge’s lights as they drive by at night or during the holidays. Think bright orange for Halloween or red for Valentine’s Day. “We want it to be a living thing that people can explore,” he says.