Photos by Carlos Jaramillo

Ed P. Reyes

The Story Behind the “Orange Bridge” Pt. 2

The Taylor Yard Bikeway and Pedestrian Bridge, better known as the “Orange Bridge,” is not easy to miss, but many overlook the history behind it. Although it was just completed in 2022, the story behind this bridge goes further back. Part 1 of this tale recounts shady practices by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink), told by former CD1 Councilmember Ed P. Reyes. In part 2, he continues to share his recollection of the saga:

Under the direction of then CD1 Councilmember Mike Hernandez, Ed looked into the legalities of Metrolink’s acquisition of the Taylor Yard property. Upon finding numerous issues, his office then “pushed the city attorney to go into lawsuit mode and hold them [Metrolink] accountable. We made them know that we were gonna fight that campaign and demonstrate how they abused those resources and that power in screwing our community, the way they essentially maneuvered that whole process against our ability to defend ourselves.”

The research undertaken by Ed paid off, and the threat of a lawsuit was successful in convincing Metrolink to settle. The new Metrolink Maintenance Yard project would continue, but the community would have a say in the future of the rest of the land. Ed and his team immediately got to work on building out their vision for the future of Taylor Yard, and the land around it.

“We did linkages studies to figure out where people were actually walking, and where the trouble zones were. When we did the Taylor Yards plans, we went through a [mapping] exercise…[and the community] came back with their versions of what they wanted to see. What you see today is a reflection of those maps, at the Taylor Yards, the high school, the housing, the walkway, the playing fields.”

Some additional outcomes of the negotiation included moving the rail line from San Fernando Road to create frontage for the community, and the construction of a new road connecting San Fernando Road and the river.
However, the most visible outcome is the Taylor Yard Bridge — the bright orange bridge that connects the communities of Cypress Park and Elysian Valley. Although fears of increased gang violence stalled construction some twenty years ago, gentrification of the surrounding area has resumed construction on both sides of the river. The bridge creates a safe and shorter route for students to surrounding schools and parks, it connects the bike path to the parks while promoting safe passages decreasing exposure of youth to gang violence.

To outsiders, it may seem like a bridge to nowhere but for residents it improves their quality of life, signifies safety and symbolizes one more victory for a community neglected for decades.

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.