Pedestrian bridge to be built over Loop 101 - East Valley Tribune: News

Pedestrian bridge to be built over Loop 101

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Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 12:44 pm | Updated: 1:14 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Alaska never got its infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But Chandler soon will have, "Where's the bridge?" During the coming months, a support pier for a 500-foot-long pedestrian bridge will be built in the median of Loop 101, halfway between Ray Road and Chandler Boulevard.

Alaska never got its infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But Chandler soon will have, "Where's the bridge?"

During the coming months, a support pier for a 500-foot-long pedestrian bridge will be built in the median of Loop 101, halfway between Ray Road and Chandler Boulevard.

When the span will be built, no one really knows. So, until the Galveston Street Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge is a reality, motorists will be treated to the sight of a 20-foot-tall, 14-foot-wide "T" in the middle of the freeway.

"It'll be sitting out there by itself," said Bob Bortfeld, a senior public works engineer with the city.

But when the bridge is finally built, it promises to be far better looking.

The design firm hired by the city, T.Y. Lin International, can take credit for a number of aesthetically agreeable spans around the nation. In Arizona, the firm is responsible for the Dreamy Draw Pedestrian Bridge in Phoenix, the Metro light-rail bridge over Tempe Town Lake and Tucson's Diamondback Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge, which looks like a rattlesnake.

Even more, T.Y. Lin used part of its city-issued $622,000 design contract to hire a local artist familiar with coaxing pleasing forms out of bridges' functionality.

One of Laurie Lundquist's most notable projects is the Mountain Pass Pedestrian Bridge in Phoenix, which spans state Route 51. She took the steel mesh cage inside where people walk and designed the top to echo the craggy peaks of the surrounding Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

In the East Valley, Lundquist participated in the design of the pedestrian bridge over U.S. 60 at Country Club Way in Tempe.

"This bridge (in Chandler) really does have a lot of potential to be a wonderful aesthetic statement," Lundquist said at a recent meeting of the city's arts commission.

T.Y. Lin and Lundquist have at hand one local feature they could possibly use as an artistic hook: model planes.

East of the freeway, on the southeast corner of Galveston and Price Road, is Thude Park. Radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts, who call this 24-acre patch of green grass the Chandler Bowl, use the park as their airport.

The bridge could have, as part of its eastside ramp, a viewing platform, said Lundquist and T.Y. Lin vice president Dan Heller.

Bortfeld said the bridge's projected cost is $4 million to $5 million. Transportation planners have deemed it necessary because Loop 101's construction severed regional bike trails.

The reason the support pier is being constructed now, rather than when the bridge is built, is because this is an opportune time.

Arizona Department of Transportation crews already have the median blocked off and under construction, as carpool lanes are being built on the 101 from Chandler to Scottsdale.

"It's good to put it in now so we can limit the obstructions to traffic down the road," ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said.

The pier is expected to be finished this summer, around the same time as the HOV lanes, Nintzel said.

There is a precedent for this, Bortfeld and Nintzel said. In the median of Interstate 17 at Maryland Avenue, a support was constructed long before the bridge.

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