Bridging the gap

Weather delays construction of pedestrian, bicyclist bridge across Tempe Town Lake

(2.23) LAKE
PLANS HALTED: A pedestrian bridge that was planned to be built over the west end of Tempe Town Lake has been delayed due to the recent winter storms. (Photo Courtesy of the City of Tempe)
Published On:
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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Though winter storms have delayed Tempe’s plans to replace dams and build a footbridge at Tempe Town Lake, the city intends to move forward when water levels drop.

The footbridge, which will be a safer route for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the lake, will be built on top of the dams at the lake’s west bank.

Nancy Ryan, Rio Salado project manager for the city of Tempe, said heavy rainfall delayed dam and bridge construction.

“Construction crews were going to be placed at the west side of the lake,” she said. “But due to increased water over the dam, it was not a safe place.”

Before construction of the bridge can begin, the bladders, which control the lake’s water level, must be replaced.

“The aging of the rubber has occurred faster than we anticipated,” Ryan said.

Tempe officials selected the San Francisco-based engineering firm T. Y. Lin International, which has an office in Tempe, to design the futuristic bridge.

The start of bladder replacement and the construction of the pedestrian bridge will be delayed until the water drops to a low enough level, she said.

The bridge will be on the west bank of the lake, adjacent to the Tempe Center for the Arts, and will span 228 feet from the south shore to the north. The bridge walkway will be 10 feet wide, so pedestrians and bicyclists can pull over to take in the view.

The total cost of construction is nearly $5.8 million and construction is estimated to begin as early as December, Ryan said.

Thomas Tomczyk, vice president of Tempe Bicycle Action Group, said the group is part of the city of Tempe’s Transportation Commission.

“We actually work with Tempe on a regular basis,” he said. “It sounds like a cool bridge and obviously it is going to be very useful for people to cross the lake.”

Right now, pedestrians and bicyclists are using the Mill Avenue Bridge and Scottsdale Road, which are not easy routes for novice bicyclists, he said.

“This is a project we fully support,” he said.

Eric Iwersen, a 1994 ASU alumnus, is a senior planner for Tempe and works in project management for a variety of transportation projects. Iwersen, who bikes daily, was involved in the early stages of the project.

“Tempe continues to contribute a large portion of our transportation budget to alternative modes of travel that will shift the community in a more sustainable direction,” he said.

Iwersen encouraged ASU students to take advantage of the bridge once it is completed.

“It’s going to be a really cool-looking, beautiful bridge, and aesthetically a great addition to that area,” he said. “It’ll make it much more convenient to go north and south.”

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