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6th street Viaduct is shut by LAPD for second night in a row

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A victim of its own allure, the 6th Street Viaduct was shut by Los Angeles police for a second night in a row.

Two weeks after opening, the celebrated bridge was closed Saturday after daredevils climbed its arches and traffic backed up for miles.

The bridge has become a hot spot for street takeovers and cruisers. Police told KNBC that officers closed the bridge Saturday after discovering social media posts about a planned takeover.

“It’s easier to close it before it happens,” LAPD Capt. Elaine Morales told the news station. “Street racing kills. We have seen many victims, young and adults, and we don’t want that to happen here on the bridge.”

The closure followed a Friday evening crash on the bridge that prompted the LAPD to shut the more than half-mile-long span.

The bridge, which cost more than a half-billion dollars, connects the historic Eastside to the Arts District. When it opened, officials immediately praised it as the city’s next icon.

Days later, drag racers, skaters and cruisers were claiming it as their own space, causing long traffic jams, setting off fireworks and creating chaos. Images on social media showed cars doing burnouts, people scaling the arches at terrifying heights and even one person getting a haircut as cars cruised by.

“I am upset that you can’t enjoy something nice, especially on a hot day, hot night,” Tony Cervantes, a nearby resident, told KCAL on Saturday night. “You walk around down the street and you have this shut down.”

The LAPD has beefed up patrol along the bridge, where commuters often hang their phones out of the window to capture its breathtaking views of the city.

Skid marks already stain the bridge’s road. While some locals shrug it off, others worry that the media attention could taint the public image of Boyle Heights.

Eric Avila, an urban historian at UCLA, said there has to be a way to prevent dangerous activity while also allowing activities like lowriding. Lowrider cruising, he said, is part of the Eastside’s identity with a history inextricably tied to Whittier Boulevard, where the bridge spills out into.

“What’s wrong with … slow cruising on the bridge to show off cars in a way that people do at Elysian Park on Sunday?” he said.

LAPD Central Division officials tweeted that there would be “maximum enforcement” over the weekend and that vehicles parked on the bridge would be cited or towed. Anyone present at a bridge takeover will be cited, they said.

Meanwhile, city and transit officials are looking at installing cameras, higher fencing and a traffic median on the bridge to minimize future problems.

Times staff writer Cindy Carcamo contributed to this report.

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