Photos by Carlos Jaramillo

Ed P. Reyes

The Story Behind the “Orange Bridge” Pt.1

Over the years, many pedestrian bridges have popped up along the Glendale Narrows section of the Los Angeles River in Northeast LA. One bridge has a pointy mast that soars 60 feet into the sky, another is full of love locks rivaling the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris. The newest addition? A bright orange bridge that might be a geometry teacher’s dream — or nightmare, depending on which you ask.

Known better as the “Orange Bridge” than by its official name, the Taylor Yard Bikeway and Pedestrian Bridge, the story behind this river crossing is a long and largely unknown one. Luckily, former District 1 Councilmember Ed P. Reyes had a front seat to that history:

In 1991, “when Gloria Molina leaves the office of the [City] Council to be supervisor and Mike [Hernandez] comes in, there’s a six to eight month window where no one’s sitting at the helm to protect the district. It’s during that time in which the SCRRA [Southern California Regional Rail Authority] starts moving on the maintenance yards [that comprise the Taylor Yard lot along the river].”

With no one on the City Council representing District 1, SCRRA, better known as Metrolink, was able to swoop in and acquire Taylor Yard for the construction of a new maintenance facility. And they did so without producing an Environment Impact Report (EIR), nor holding mandated informational community meetings. To the park-poor communities of Cypress Park and Elysian Valley, this was a major blow. Community members were envisioning a different future for this land. They hoped for a much needed park or school — not another polluting industrial site.

Ed shared these frustrations.

“We already had all the maintenance yards in the world, we had the County’s maintenance yards, we had the City of LA’s maintenance yards, we had maintenance yards everywhere, and we have a high population density. We have all these kids who don’t have parks, they have no libraries. We’re being bussed from our own neighborhoods. Why couldn’t we build a school there? Why couldn’t we build a park there? Why couldn’t we go get what everyone else has if the opportunity is there?”

The opportunity later presented itself in the form of a lawsuit. Because Metrolink had failed to complete all of the required forms and studies during their acquisition of Taylor Yard, the local community was presented with leverage to negotiate an outcome that reflected their actual needs.

Read Part 2 for more.

Born and raised in Cypress Park, Ed P. Reyes grew up witnessing the effects of governmental neglect and poor urban planning. Motivated to bring change to his community, Ed went on to study English and Urban Planning at UCLA, after graduating he worked for the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning, where he served 10 years as Chief Planning Deputy and 2 terms as Councilmember for District 1, his home district. During his time in government, he expanded the city’s affordable housing stock, added 80 acres of new park space to his district, and served as chair of the Los Angeles River Ad Hoc Committee.