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Thieves Cause 6th Street Bridge to Go Completely Dark

Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The 6th street viaduct which was completed in 2022 and dubbed the "Ribbon of light" is now officially in the dark. All ten arches of light are inoperable as thieves have stolen the copper wire necessary for power. First, they targeted the lights along the bridge’s walkway. Next, it was the light poles, and most recently, the wiring that powers the LEDs illuminating the 10 sets of arches.

“I used to walk it at night all the time,” says 52-year-old Billy Avellan. “It was beautiful. It was well-lit. Some people might say it was too well-lit, but now it’s completely dark and that’s sad.”

Five years ago, between 500 and 600 cases of copper wire theft were reported annually. Over the past year, there have been 6,713 cases with repair costs exceeding $17 million in Los Angeles, Councilman Kevin de León stated during a news conference in January. At that time, 38,000 feet—approximately seven miles—of copper wire had been stolen from the 6th Street Bridge, likely fetching around $11,000. De León estimated that fixing the lights would cost taxpayers about $2.5 million. Now, it appears even more copper wire has now been taken.

“We have to understand this is not merely about stealing copper wire, because it goes beyond that,” De León said in January. “Thieves are literally picking our city apart for parts to sell for scraps.”

The $588-million viaduct, which former Mayor Eric Garcetti described as a “love letter to the city,” replaced a beloved 1932 bridge that had been deteriorating for years. While the opening of the 6th Street Bridge was celebrated with great enthusiasm, it quickly became a hotspot for social media stunts and other illegal activities.

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