The Regional Transportation District broke ground in early August on the longest bridge in Colorado. Appropriately named the Skyway Bridge, the structure will span 9,533 ft and stand nearly 50 ft above grade at its highest point. The bridge is part of the North Metro Rail Line project, an 18.5-mile commuter rail line that will run from Denver Union Station through Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton.
When complete, RTD’s Skyway Bridge will carry electric commuter rail trains through Denver and Commerce City, crossing 11 existing transportation corridors and waterways.
The bridge will begin its northward rise just south of York Street in Commerce City. It spans above and across York Street; the BNSF and UP railway tracks and spurs (four times); Brighton Boulevard; the Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Co. ditch (three times); Sand Creek; and Highway 270. The bridge will touch down adjacent to Bambei-Walker Reservoir, just south of 68th Avenue.
The Skyway Bridge is one of 13 bridges on the project. Designing the bridge took nearly a year and a half and required coordination from eight governmental/regional stakeholders. It required at least six engineers: two full-time for the duration of the design, three part-time engineers, and one full-time senior engineer who managed design oversight.
“It’s an accomplishment for our project to say we worked with many professionals and stakeholders to design the longest bridge in Colorado, and it’s in RTD’s transit system, which makes it all that more exciting for us,” said Ashland Vaughn, project manager for the North Metro Rail Line.
While generally it is more expensive to build a bridge than travel on land, in the case of the Skyway Bridge, RTD can mitigate hundreds of environmental and construction impacts as well as preserve private property to the greatest extent possible.
“The cost and time savings of avoiding the multitude of impacts makes the choice to build the bridge a smart business decision,” said Vaughn.