Copper Thieves Attack “Ribbon of Light” on Award-Winning L.A. Bridge

For months thieves have been stealing copper wire from the Sixth Street Viaduct, which opened in 2022 with its unique “Ribbon of Light.”

Now that ribbon is mostly dark on the $588 million bridge, which was named the most outstanding engineering achievement for 2023 by the American Council of Engineering Companies.

City officials estimate about 7 miles of copper wire, used to light the bridge’s signature arches, street lamps and other features, have been stolen. Replacement would cost about $2.5 million, while thieves made about $11,000 on the black market.

“What they’re getting, actually, is pennies on the dollar,” L.A. City Councilman Kevin de León told CBS Evening News. “It costs taxpayers millions of dollars in repairs.”

The 3,500-foot-long bridge spanning the L.A. River features 10 pairs of 30- to 60-foot concrete arches and was the largest bridge project in the city’s history. The bridge is also believed to be the longest seismically isolated tied-arch concrete bridge in the world. It required 100,000 tons of concrete and 8,250 tons of steel. It also features wider walkways and separate bike lanes. 

The bridge replaced the famous viaduct built in 1932, which was demolished in 2016 because of deterioration. It was a scene location in many movies over the years.

The bridge is not the only site being stripped, as the problem has been going on for years, costing upward of $17 million in repairs. In February, the city launched a task force to focus on stopping copper wire theft. It appears, though, that the effort so far has not been successful.