Before the completion of the $5.4-million Bear Canyon Arroyo bicycle and pedestrian bridge, Albuquerque did not have a dedicated crossing over Interstate 25 for non-motorized traffic in the northern half of the city, and the arterial streets crossing I-25 at the interchanges were not particularly bicycle-friendly or safe.

Images by Marja Murray
The Bear Canyon Arroyo at I-25 Pedestrian Bridge in Albuquerque, N.M.
Image by Marja Murray
The Bear Canyon Arroyo at I-25 Pedestrian Bridge in Albuquerque, N.M.

"Anytime you have a freeway, they tend to disconnect communities," said one judge. "If you can work in these [pedestrian] overpasses to get bicycles through, you start to connect people."

With the new bridge in place, residents can safely cross via a graceful and artistic structure.

The 286-ft-long, two-span, concrete-girder structure crosses both the I-25 and frontage roads. Stairs and ADA-compliant ramps provide access to the bridge in a design that emphasizes the horizontal lines of the project. A 101.5-ft-long box beam bridge crosses an arroyo on the west side of the highway.

As the bridge passes over the freeway, a diaphanous cage of galvanized, expanded metal encompasses the pathway. While the bridge was designed without any added color or artwork, this metal cage provides a neutral canvas for lighting artists to create the bridge's signature look at night.

The lighting design incorporates more than 450 low-wattage LEDs that are responsive to ambient light levels. The safety cage and metal handrails reflect the light, adding a striking visual pattern to the bridge while still providing adequate illumination for pedestrians.

"There is just a cool factor," added the judge. "The look of the bridge at night is impressive. As far as a small project goes, you get a lot of bang for the buck."

To reduce the impact of construction to the highway below, the project team designed a forming system that used H-piles to support the deck slabs, which rested on heavy-duty jacks that were bolted into the columns. This required only one set of shore towers in the middle, which also effectively halved the supported span length.

The bridge is part of a larger plan to develop trails along the Bear Canyon Arroyo and to provide pedestrian access to local businesses.

Bear Canyon Arroyo Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge at I-25Albuquerque

Key Players

Contractor A.S. Horner Inc., Albuquerque

Owner City of Albuquerque

Lead Design Larkin Group NM Inc., Albuquerque

Structural Engineer Quiroga - Pfeiffer Engineering Corp., Albuquerque

Architect Geoffrey C. Adams, Albuquerque

Lighting Design Tillet Lighting Design Inc., Brooklyn

Electrical Engineer The Response Group, Albuquerque

Geotechnical Engineer Geo-Test, Albuquerque

Environmental Marron and Associates Inc., Albuquerque