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oliveurban Sep 28, 2005 9:41 PM

The Tucson Development Thread

One huge arch
Cost of suspension bridge over I-10 unknown but rising; span would be Tucson's tallest structure

By Thomas Stauffer

New images released Thursday by the UA show an enormous arch spanning Interstate 10 that would serve not only as a landmark for Tucson but would also support a pedestrian bridge and a proposed science center.

While the images of the arch and suspension bridge, which also spans the Santa Cruz River west of Downtown, are more detailed versions of one introduced in October by architect Rafael Viñoly, the estimated cost has yet to be fleshed out, said Alexis Faust, executive director of the University of Arizona's Flandrau Science Center.

"I honestly don't know what it's going to cost and I don't even want to guess," she said about the project. "We know that it's more. The question is, how much more, and we won't be able to answer that until some more design work has been done."

The Uruguay-born Viñoly envisions a suspension bridge with a 360-foot-high arch that would make it the tallest structure in Tucson.

The arch would be the support structure for the science center and pedestrian bridge, which would provide panoramic views of the city and its mountain scapes, Faust said.

But his more detailed design does much more than just create a structure that would serve as a landmark such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, she said.

"One of the things we're really trying to show people with these new images is that this is not only iconic, but what it will support, what goes inside of this bridge," she said. "The earlier image apparently left some people with the idea that this would just be an arch or an arch supporting a pedestrian bridge, when this is obviously much more than that."

Citizens' groups stressed a desire for the structure to tread as lightly as possible on the land, Faust said.

"You can't tread much more lightly than only hitting the ground at the two points where the bridge lands," she said. "Rafael also made a comment that one way of honoring a sense of place is to provide a space to look at things from another perspective, and this will certainly allow people to look at not only rooftops but also at mountain ranges, geology, and where we are in the context of Arizona."

A focal element of the Rio Nuevo Downtown redevelopment project approved by voters in 1999, the science center project, which includes the arch, the bridge, and all science center buildings, had earlier been projected to cost about $100 million.

The next step is an economic feasibility study on the center, which is expected to be released in about a month, Faust said.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved $73 million for the center, added to state tax increment financing of $20 million from Rio Nuevo, a $16 million private endowment, private donations and federal and state funds related to the widening of I-10 and restoration of the Santa Cruz River, Faust said.

Construction of the science center project would require synchronization with the widening of I-10 from West Prince Road to West 29th Street, a three-year, $122 million project, said Doug Nintzel, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

"We've already had a lot of coordination leading up to the start of construction and that is going to have to continue through all stages of this work," Nintzel said. "We're going to concentrate on that particular section first and that will require working closely with the science center."

Work is expected to begin on the science center in late 2006 and end in late 2009. Work on I-10 will begin in the spring of 2006, said Dennis Alvarez, ADOT's Tucson District engineer.

The science center project evolved from one that would have required additional construction features to the I-10 widening plans to one that will not require additional work or expense for the freeway project, Alvarez said.

Work schedule:

● Construction is expected to begin in late 2006.

● Construction would be done concurrently with work on the affected portion of Interstate 10, which is being widened from Prince Road to 29th Street.

● Estimated completion date is late 2009.

● The bridge, which includes the campus buildings and the pedestrian walkway that winds through, by and over the different buildings, would be about 1,200 feet long and 50 to 60 feet wide.

● The cost estimate is more than $100 million.

Additional Images:

glowrock Sep 28, 2005 9:45 PM

Now THAT is a cool proposal! Congrats, Tucson!

Aaron (Glowrock)

Don B. Sep 28, 2005 10:01 PM

Very interesting. I'll have to call my aunt and see what the buzz is about this in the Tucson suburbs. :)


soleri Sep 28, 2005 10:17 PM

I like it. I was afraid Rio Nuevo would be another one of those hybrid projects, mixing a "festival marketplace" with an aquarium or a baseball stadium. The bridge is gorgeous and iconic. It also shifts the focus of Tucson from the homogenized schlock of the foothills to the edgier, more creative part of the city. Tucson could hit a home run with this project.

bunt_q Sep 28, 2005 10:28 PM

That's ridiculous... a ped brisge taller than any other structure in the city? Are they serious?

ABQturkey Sep 28, 2005 10:53 PM

Anyone ever driven through Nebraska along I-80? Kinda reminds me of that but cooler. I'm thinking they could do something better with a $100 million.

somethingfast Sep 29, 2005 12:20 AM

I think it looks great. I also think it's way too progressive for Tucson and, thus, will never see the light of day. I hope I'm wrong. DT Tucson is actually pretty nice and has lots of potential. I like the idea of Tucson being the "gateway" between the US and Mexico.

ItsConanOBrien Sep 29, 2005 12:47 AM

Wow! That's a hell of a bridge.

J Church Sep 29, 2005 12:54 AM

a ped brisge taller than any other structure in the city? Are they serious?

i don't see why not. well, money.

jard Sep 29, 2005 1:42 AM


Originally Posted by ABQturkey
Anyone ever driven through Nebraska along I-80? Kinda reminds me of that but cooler. I'm thinking they could do something better with a $100 million.

Several times. That little place can be a nice break from the long trip. I always stop there and at cabela's on the way to lincoln from boise.

This bridge looks awsome. Think of the pictures you could take from that thing

Azndragon837 Sep 29, 2005 2:55 AM

Wow, I love that bridge. Since Tucson might be getting its signature man-made structure, Phoenix needs to consider something like this as well.

In any case, a 360' tall bridge is awesome, that'll look soooo cool. Go Tucson!


xymox Sep 29, 2005 3:26 AM

Ummm - 360' tall suspension bridge in a landlocked city? Very odd...I'd almost think it'd look way too out of place. Something like this over the Tempe Town Lake would be more 'in place'.


I noticed in the pictures that the bridge seems to be 'open air' - I'd imagine they'd have to cage it in to keep lonely people from jumping onto I-10...

PHX602 Sep 29, 2005 6:35 PM

What’s that you spot in the telescope? Why it's the sprawly shitfest Casa Grande growing towards us.:D

Upward Sep 30, 2005 8:02 AM

^ LOL!! :haha:

I must say, it would be pretty bizarre to have a pedestrian bridge as the tallest structure in a city the size of Tucson.

Then again, they need something to get people across the vast expanse of I-10, with its 3 whole lanes in each direction! ;)

Actually, I guess it would be pretty cool to drive under that on I-10.

combusean Sep 30, 2005 11:00 AM

They should do something like this for the Central Avenue bridge over Deck Park.

oliveurban Sep 30, 2005 11:11 AM

^ Yea, might as well. I mean, while they're currently in the process of tearing up the current bridge ...

pablosan Sep 30, 2005 3:15 PM

The Tucson Arch? It definately would be iconic.

Upward Sep 30, 2005 6:21 PM


Originally Posted by camelback_road
^ Yea, might as well. I mean, while they're currently in the process of tearing up the current bridge ...

They're tearing up the bridge over deck park?! Why?

oliveurban Sep 30, 2005 6:30 PM

^ Yea, for the light-rail line. It's being altered.

combusean Sep 30, 2005 6:52 PM

To what extent?

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