Thursday, April 22, 2010

Painted Bridges - Coronado Bridge Approach (2)

The paintings on the Coronado Bridge columns have long been a source of controversy. Before the land was seized as 'Chicano Park,' artists may have felt greater freedom to express themselves on bridge columns. After the park became managed by the neighborhood, there was more control over what was painted.

Caltrans also felt uncomfortable with images of Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Salvadore Allende and other revolutionaries on it's bridges. Caltrans District Director Pedro Orso eventually met with civil rights leaders, and decided that free expression was more important than who was painted on the columns and he even gave some money to help renovate the park.

Groups taking land under a bridge and turning it into a place to practice their cultural activities is fairly common in California. I had a bridge in Oakland and the ground underneath was used by teenagers who turned it into a skateboard park. I protested that the concrete poured around the columns was reducing their effective length and making them unsafe (with higher shear) during earthquakes. Although California politicians listened to my arguments, they sided with the teenagers.

An even more common occurrence is poor people who turn the underside of bridges into their homes. On a positive note, its nice that our bridges fill so many peoples' needs.
Creative Commons License
Painted Bridges - Coronado Bridge Approaches (2) by Mark Yashinsky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

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