February 2020

Meet Karen Keal, Engineer with the City's Sixth Street Team

This month, we conducted an interview with Karen Keal, one of the members of the Bureau of Engineering's team leading the construction of the Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project. Karen is part of the all-woman team leading the project for the City and we asked her to tell us more about her role on the largest bridge project in the history of the City of Los Angeles:

What do you do on the project?

I am the City’s structural engineer on the construction management team for this project. I work on the technical engineering aspects and work closely with the Resident Engineer. I also manage a team of consultants for source inspection and testing of critical structural elements, as well as act as the lead coordinator for the five railroad agencies that the viaduct spans over.

When did you start working on the project? 

I joined the Sixth Street Viaduct team in October 2017.

How do you overcome challenges that arise while you’re working?  

This is what being an engineer is all about. We face new challenges every day and the solution for one problem usually does not solve the next one.  Finding good solutions often requires creative innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.

What’s helped you most while working on the viaduct? 

Collaborating with other intelligent and knowledgeable engineers on the Sixth Street Viaduct project team has helped me the most while working on this project. Our team is successful when we work together.

What motivates you to complete this difficult and challenging project?

I am motivated by being pushed out of my comfort zone and having the opportunity to overcome challenges. I’m also motivated by the fact that the completed Sixth Street Viaduct will be an iconic landmark in the City of Los Angeles and will benefit Angelenos for many generations to come. I want to make sure that the Viaduct is a structure that the City will be proud of.

What’s your favorite part of the project?

My favorite part of this project is seeing the viaduct being built before my eyes and having the opportunity to contribute to the City of Los Angeles.

About the Project

Stay Involved!

The Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project is constructing 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 $488 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 will be completed in 2022.

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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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