Sep 2017

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Four Questions for Julie Allen, Sixth Street Viaduct
Program Manager

Women Laborers Making it Happen

julie_allen.jpgQ: Tell us about your role with the project?
A: I have been the Program Manager of the Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project since January 2015. I am responsible for leading a team of professional staff and consultants to successfully deliver the project on schedule and within budget. This involves design development, coordination with our partner agencies, including Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration, and managing the construction of this technically complex structure.

Q: What's been the most exciting aspect of the project so far?
A: It was very exciting to witness the first stage of demolition during a weekend closure of the 101 freeway. So many people came together to make it happen and there was a great sense of accomplishment as we all realized this project was really a go after many years of planning. As each new phase begins there is a renewed focus on working together to achieve our goal to open the new viaduct at the end of 2020. 

Q: Why do you believe it is important to have women working on this project?
A: We have a very diverse team of engineers and technical staff delivering this project, including many women in leadership positions.  In fact, four of the five senior level positions in the Bureau of Engineering jobsite team are currently held by women, which is rare in bridge construction. We believe that diversity helps support great collaboration, professionalism, and outstanding problem solving for the benefit of the project. 

Q: Why do you think this project is so important to the community?
A: It has been so rewarding to engage with the community during the development of this project. Nearly 10,000 people came to the "Farewell Sixth Street Bridge" festival hosted by Councilmember Huizar. That night we saw again how much the community loved the old bridge and how much it wants to celebrate the new viaduct. Our team is committed to building a project that the community can be proud of.

Women laborers are an important part of the construction of the new Sixth Street Viaduct. Meet two of the women helping us build it.

unnamed.jpgJessica Oliva is a Carpenter Apprentice with Local 409. She was born and raised in El Salvador, where she also attended college for three years to study law. Before completing her degree, she made the decision to move to the United States for financial stability and a better life. Soon after arriving in the U.S., Jessica worked at a warehouse driving forklifts and performing maintenance work, which helped her to realize that she wanted a career in the construction industry.  After speaking with a family member about working in a union, she decided it would be a great career opportunity that would offer a better future for her and her family. Jessica applied with The Carpenters Union Local 409 and was sponsored into the program.

Recently Jessica has been hired by SSW as a Carpenter Apprentice to be a part of the team building falsework for the new Viaduct. Jessica said, "I am happy to be here working with a company that takes good care of their employees". 

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Elvia Medina del Rio, another woman working on the Sixth Street Viaduct project, is a single mother of four.

Last year, Elvia applied for a job working on the demolition of the old viaduct. She joined the job training program with fourteen other women, and was among the seven that finished it.

“I told myself that I could do this," said Elvia. "This work is not only for men, we can do it, too."

Elvia had words of praise for the people and contractors working on the demolition of the old viaduct. She is proud of her work and is happy to be seen as a role model for other women considering construction work.

“I think times are changing. Women are leaving fear behind and are seizing the opportunities that the construction industry offers,” Elvia added.

Women of the
Sixth Street Viaduct Project

Future Women Engineers Tour Construction Site

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Women working on the Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project posed for a photo following the groundbreaking ceremony two years ago. FRONT ROW (L-R): Karen Cormier, BOE; Hilary Norton, FAST/USG; Joanna Amador, USG; Veronica Manzo Diaz, SSW; Heather Anderson, CH2MHill; Tonya Durell, Department of Public Works; Shirley Choate, Caltrans; Deborah Weintraub, BOE; Danielle Brazell, Department of Cultural Affairs; Becky Snodgrass, Department of Cultural Affairs; Felicia Filer, Department of Cultural Affairs; Patty Huber, City Administrative Office; Laurie Hancock, City Administrative Office; Lynda McGlinchley, Bureau of Contract Administration
BACK ROW (L-R): Sherri Franklin, USG/UDC; Heather Rozman, SSW; Jen Lathrop, MMA; Kyleen Junier, SSW; Erin Coates, CH2M HILL; Alison Lobenstein, SSW; Mary Nemick, BOE; Andrea Galvin, GPA; Mayra Ramos, SSW; Lyubov Kingsbury, HNTB; Rocio Hernandez, Councilmember Huizar's Office; Tran Le, HNTB; Jennifer Maclsaac, HNTB; Jullie Allen, BOE.

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The DIY Girls Club, a non-profit dedicated to increasing girls' interest and success in science and technology, toured the Sixth Street Viaduct site Last Spring! The tour was led by the founder of the organization, Public Works Commissioner, Luz Rivas.

About the Project

Stay Involved!

The Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project is a new, 3,500-foot long viaduct connecting Boyle Heights and the Arts District across the Los Angeles River. The original viaduct was built in 1932, but had significantly deteriorated due to "concrete cancer"; it was demolished in 2016. The new viaduct will have ten pairs of lit arches, bike lanes and wider sidewalks, along with stairway access and bike ramps connecting to 12 acres of recreational and open space under the bridge. The $482 million dollar project is the largest bridge project in the history of the city. The bridge is funded primarily through the Federal Highway Administration, with additional City support. The viaduct is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

To stay involved, sign up for email or text updates at: 
www.sixthstreetviaduct.org/join_our_mailing_list

Follow us on Facebook (@sixtstreetbridge), Twitter (@6thstviaduct) and Instagram (@6thstviaduct)

And check out our website at www.sixthstreetviaduct.org

The Bureau of Engineering is the City's lead agency for the planning, design and construction management of the City's public buildings and its public infrastructure. Engineering is also responsible for managing permitting for all construction that takes place in the public right-of-way, as well as managing the City's state-of-the-art online mapping system, NavigateLA. Engineering is committed to designing and building environmentally-sustainable projects that include extensive community input. Engineering projects and services support the City's goals of creating a prosperous, livable and safe city for all residents and businesses.


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