Thursday, 27 July 2017 23:06

Jordan River Parkway Trail nears completion

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by Michael Evans

The Jordan River Pedestrian Bridge, now under construction, is the last connection on the Jordan River Parkway; it will cross the railroad tracks above Rocky Mountain Power property and become a channel for pedestrians and bicycles over that long-time industrial barrier.

“When finished, the bridge will mark the completion of this 45-mile trail, whose planning started in the 1970s,” said Matthew Rojas of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office. The bridge will span an active freight railroad corridor and create a new north-south connection between 200 South and North Temple. The trail follows the Jordan River for most of its course from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake marshes.

Six organizations have all contributed to the project, Rojas said: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, the Utah Legislature, Union Pacific Railroad, Jordan River Commission, and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. The bridge is being constructed by Gerber Construction, under contract with Salt Lake City.

Mr. Rojas continued: “In addition to completing the Jordan River Parkway Trail, this bridge will link together a 100-plus-mile continuous trail system running from Provo to Ogden. After many years of studying alternatives and working with the state, Union Pacific Railroad, Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway, and Rocky Mountain Power, the city decided on a design to span the three freight rail tracks and to curve past two large electrical transmission poles.”

“This segment of the Jordan River Trail is a real feat of engineering and coordination, and it’s exciting to see this impressive bridge cap this long-term project,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “This project supports many of our city’s key goals – connecting communities, supporting open space and recreation, and promoting human-powered transportation to help clean our air.”

After bipartisan approval by the 2016 Legislature, funding for the Jordan River Pedestrian Bridge was appropriated, and the project is on schedule, according to Paul Dowler, project manager at the Salt Lake City Engineering Department. “The foundations are in, the concrete columns have been poured, the steel girders are in fabrication, next we’ll be making the concrete decks,” says Mr. Dowler.

The bridge will ramp up to 24 feet, in order to get over the tracks, and there will be 250 feet of “clear span,” one piece of metal trussing, before ramping down the other side. The steel arch supports itself, and it will be lifted into place towards the end of the project. The end points are slotted to allow expansion and contraction, plus provide drainage by gravity, and defy ice, slush and snow. The scheduled completion date is Thanksgiving 2017.

“We will work in the snow,” Dowler said. “We have allowances for weather delays.”

The Jordan River Pedestrian Bridge will connect two historical sites along the Jordan River Parkway. The Fisher mansion on Second Sound anchors the south end, and the Salt Lake, Garfield, and Western Railway Depot is at the north end.

The Salt Lake, Garfield, and Western Railway, established in 1891, once took passengers back and forth to Saltair Resort on the shores of a much deeper Great Salt Lake, where people floated in the briny water and enjoyed big bands in the Saltair Pavilion during the Swing Era of the 1930s and 40s, or rode Saltair’s wooden roller coaster, known as the “Giant Racer,” until it collapsed during a windstorm in 1957. Some of the passenger cars were wide-open to the elements, while others were conventional closed cars. The SLG&W Depot is still being used for various purposes, and has escaped the longtime neglect of the Fisher Mansion.

There were baseball diamonds adjacent to the SLG&W Depot, collectively known as White Ball Park when this area of Salt Lake City was known as White City. At the moment, though, this land consists of almost two city blocks of gravel-coated overflow parking for the Fairpark. Several plans have been proposed for the parcel of land, but none have come to fruition, so it remains a field of memories and dreams.

A community celebration of the project is being planned. For more information and updates on the bridge project, please visit: http://bikeslc.com/jordanrivertrail/default.html