A key piece of the Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame was eased into place Oct. 5.
“A 250-foot pedestrian bridge that will connect America the Beautiful Park with downtown Colorado Springs was hoisted into the air, driven across the railroad and placed onto its abutments today,” a city-issued news release said. “This masterfully orchestrated event was completed in an eight-hour window during which all trains transiting through Colorado Springs were held in place to complete the move. On-site work will continue through the winter before the bridge opens to the public in early 2021, weather and construction dependent.”
“The bridge, from idea to execution, represents how Colorado Springs is coming together to further create a city that matches its scenery. Born of public and private visioning and cooperation, it will link east and west, people and parks, downtown and surrounds,” said Mayor John Suthers. “Investment in the redevelopment of southwest downtown is creating an urban destination that residents and visitors alike will enjoy well into the future.”
The iconic bridge, which has been envisioned in the downtown master plan for decades, is one of two key public infrastructure projects central to redeveloping southwest downtown. The second, a streetscape that aims to transform Vermijo Avenue into a wide, pedestrian- and business-friendly “Signature Street,” is scheduled to open later in October.
A bridge befitting Olympic City USA
Designed by the same team as the adjacent U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum complex — Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Anderson Mason Dale, and KL&A — the new pedestrian bridge takes its inspiration from the gravity-defying motion of athletes, with a curved steel structure that floats above the railyard. Two interlocked loops, stretching from either side of the railyard, connect the museum and the park.
DS+R Partner-in-Charge and Lead Designer Benjamin Gilmartin noted, “The bridge is an exercise in fitness – both in terms of material and geometry. The hybrid steel structure system functions as an arch and a truss, elegantly preserving views from Downtown to the majestic Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak- America’s Mountain.”
The bridge will establish a pedestrian gateway from the west into downtown and connect to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum. The bridge also stitches together a growing network of pedestrian bicycle paths including the Pikes Peak Greenway and Midland Trail running alongside Monument Creek. Design elements include an elevator, staircase, ADA- and bike-friendly accommodations with bicycle wells and an overlook at the west end of the bridge.
Bridge assembly and placement
In June, construction company Kiewit began work to complete on-the-ground assembly and prepare the bridge for placement on its abutments. Close coordination with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railway facilitated suspending railroad operations in the region for an eight-hour window to transport the entire length of the 250-foot bridge, which was hoisted on 22-foot-high risers, driven across the railroad and placed on its abutments.
Prior to arriving in Colorado Springs this summer, the bridge was manufactured in Houston by King Fabrication. The bridge underwent wind tunnel testing to meet suspension bridge requirements. Final bridge finishes and construction of the elevator and staircase will take place this winter. For more information about the bridge design and fact sheet, visit ColoradoSprings.gov/PedestrianBridge.