LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A historic bridge in downtown Los Angeles built nearly a century ago is slated for $422 million replacement project, city officials announced Friday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Jose Huizar, and world-renowned architect and bridge designer Michael Matzlan were on hand at 600 Mesquit Street to break ground on the Sixth Street Viaduct replacement project, which is being billed by officials as the largest federally funded bridge in the nation and one of the largest public works projects ever undertaken by the city.

Officials say the bridge replacement is necessary because the existing bridge is buckling due to a chemical reaction known as “concrete cancer” and has a 70 percent chance of failure during a major earthquake over the next 50 years.

Built in 1932, the bridge has long been overdue for an upgrade, an effort Huizar has campaigned for over the last few years with trips to help preserve millions of dollars of funding that was in jeopardy of being lost through Caltrans, according to officials.

“From the very beginning my thought was if we have to replace an iconic bridge, we must replace it with something even more iconic – a ‘bridge for the ages’ and we’ve done that with the new 6th Street Bridge,” said Huizar. “This new design follows the livable streets model that Mayor Garcetti and I both embrace, one that ensures that traffic will flow safely across the bridge, but also prioritizes pedestrians and bike riders, and makes the bridge itself a destination, with an Arts Plaza, soccer field and pedestrian walkways.

“It will be in a word: spectacular,” Huizar added.

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