- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Demolition crews brought down a portion of a famed downtown Los Angeles bridge sooner than expected, allowing for the early reopening Sunday of a section of U.S. 101 that was closed for much of the weekend.

Traffic began flowing again on the freeway shortly after 10 a.m. - about four hours ahead of schedule, said Mary Nemick of the city Public Works Department.

“Everything just went extremely well,” she said about the weekend’s work. “Great weather, no unforeseen problems, no problems with equipment.”

A 2.5-mile section of the freeway was closed Friday so crews could bring down 220 feet of the 6th Street Bridge. No major traffic tie-ups were reported.

The 84-year-old bridge, which soars over the concrete-lined Los Angeles River, has appeared in countless Hollywood movies, including “Grease” and “Terminator 2.” Think rival gang members Danny and Leo racing in “Grease” or big chases in “Terminator 2” and “Gone in 60 Seconds.”

The freeway closure was dubbed the “#101 slowjam” on Twitter, and city officials embraced the odd branding as a way to get the word out to motorists to avoid the area for up to 40 hours.

“Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to get your haaaands dirty to build somethin’ beautiful,” Mayor Eric Garcetti crooned in a public service spot.

Considered state-of-the-art when it was built in 1932, the bridge has been suffering from a chemical reaction that for decades has weakened its concrete.

“While it is in many ways bittersweet to see the dismantling begin of the historic 6th Street Bridge, it is also symbolic of a new history that is emerging at that site,” said Councilmember Jose Huizar, whose district includes the span.

Eventually, the entire 3,500-foot bridge will be replaced by a new roadway that has the potential to become another Hollywood backdrop. A 2019 opening has been set for the $449 million project.

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