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Old Posted Sep 28, 2005, 9:41 PM
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Lightbulb 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:

Last edited by oliveurban; Oct 31, 2005 at 11:17 AM.
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