If built, expect two main points of the proposed pedestrian bridge in Spokane, Wash., to get folks really talking: a giant cable-stayed arch bridge that will redefine Spokane’s Riverpoint area and a potential $14 million price tag that comes with it.
Yup, both major issues.
As the city pushes its master plan for its University District, a pedestrian bridge over a railway could cost as much—or more—than vehicle-carrying bridges in the city. But there will be no bridge like this one, a 120-ft-tall cable-stayed arch plan, a rarity in bridge design.
Instead of using pylons to anchor the cables, the arch would rise above the BNSF tracks and bridge deck, allowing the stays to tie into it at various points.
The Spokane City Council has approved the concept, expecting to use state funds—$3.1 million, according to the Spokesman Review—to help design the bridge and buy property. The paper reports construction could cost around $8 million.
The bridge would connect Washington State University’s Spokane campus south to East Sprague Avenue, ideally spurring development near a University District commercial area that city planners want to see grow in vibrancy. With Gonzaga University across the river from WSU’s Spokane Campus and Whitworth University up the street a few miles, connecting WSU to points south will help a dying neighborhood, offer incentive for developers to create housing and retail opportunities and give students fresh options for dining and other amenities, according to those promoting the effort.
The City Council has largely agreed and voted 6-1 to spend state money—$1.4 million—to get the bridge design from concept to plan.
By choosing such a visible design for the bridge, city planners want to let the public know they will invest in the Riverpoint area. They expect developers to do the same. An arched cable-stayed bridge may do the trick. For $14 million, it must.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He has also written for TIME, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.