Some three dozen spectators were transformed into amateur engineers as a construction crew prepared to move the 103,500 pound pedestrian bridge near Curtis Park into place over two sets of railroad tracks Thursday.
Onlookers, from young to old, shared theories on how the crane operation moving the 174-foot bridge would go down.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing,” said Cheryl Leamer, who lives near Freeport Boulevard.
The arched steel structure is to connect the new Curtis Park Village development (and by extension Curtis Park) east of the Union Pacific and Regional Transit rail tracks to the light-rail station, Sacramento City College and Freeport Boulevard to the west.
“The purpose of the project is connectivity in the region,” said Ofelia Avalos, an associate civil engineer with the Sacramento Department of Public Works.
The $6 million bridge is expected to open by April, Avalos said.
The bridge from an Arizona steel fabricator arrived in three pieces, which were welded together and inspected on-site. Thursday’s operation began with the structure being eased closer to the 500-ton crane with the help of a smaller crane.
Anything that gives more access is wonderful.
Cheryl Leamer, Land Park resident
The maneuver required the span to be secured several times as equipment was moved. Once it was close enough to the large crane, it took all the weight and swung the bridge 180 degrees before setting it down on already-poured slabs. Once the bridge is secured and tested, a concrete slab will be poured to create the transit path.
While at least one of the bystanders questioned the value of the bridge, it is undoubtedly less controversial than the surrounding development. On Tuesday, the City Council voted to reject the developer’s request to include a gas station in the project, which encompasses once-toxic rail land. It is more than a decade in the making.
“It has a benefit, but not huge,” Don McNerny, a Curtis Park resident, said of the bridge. He figured by the time you walk up and down the zig-zag (ADA compliant) ramps on either side of the bridge, you almost could have walked to the existing overpass on Sutterville Road.
But Avalos and others say the new bridge will give pedestrians more elbow room compared with the sidewalks next to the Sutterville Road overpass, which are 3 feet wide.
“When two people are crossing, it’s very uncomfortable,” Avalos said.
Leamer agreed, saying she supported anything that encourages more use of public transit or people-powered movement.
“I think the bridge is wonderful,” Leamer said. “Anything that gives more access is wonderful.”