Based on what I was told following my public propositions, my two concerns about such a bridge proposal are its cost, and functionality (especially for commuting cyclists). However, I was seduced by the idea, and decided to take a quick look on-line for other pedestrian/cycling bridges.
One of the first that I found was the Sundial Bridge in Redding California (illustrated above). According to on-line reports, the bridge proposal began with a $3 million price tag in 1995. By the time it opened in 2004, the price had ballooned to $23.5 million.
The Sundial was the first U.S. bridge by architect Santiago Calatrava of Valencia, Spain, whose work is legendary throughout Europe. Some might speculate that it could have inspired Gregory's design!
The 700-foot long bridge is 23 feet wide. It's deck is opaque glass from Quebec. The 14 cables hold up the bridge without needing in-river support, a major design factor because the clear-running Sacramento is a salmon-spawning stream as it runs through Redding.
The bridge takes its name from a 217-foot high pylon, which acts as a giant sundial, on the north side of the bridge. The shadow follows such a large arc that the measuring circle can record time only four hours a day (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. PDT) on summer solstice.
My favourite blogger Frances Bula, who is away in Europe recently shared her thoughts on a pedestrian/cycling bridge (see www.francesbula.com) as have many of her readers. Like so many things in life, one could argue for and against such a proposal. However, whenever comparing propositions from other cities...London, Melbourne, Dublin and so on, one does have to be careful to consider the context of the idea.
What I do find a bit odd about the Mayor's recent announcement, however, is its timing. After all, on July 13, his highly publicized proposal to alter the Burrard Street Bridge to accommodate cyclists will begin its trial period. Why did he announce an alternate proposal just now? Is the timing serendipity, or strategically determined, in anticipation of some serious negative feedback on his Burrard Street trial. While many fear that the bridge trial will fail, I would like it to succeed, even though the last trial cost my good friend Peter Ladner a lot of support in many circles.
And as for the cost of this proposal, I can say with certainty that should this proposition progress, a bridge design along the lines presented by Gregory will likely cost significantly more than $45 million. The city engineers know this too. I wonder if the Mayor asked them. Somehow, I don't think so!