Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall 2020

14 Colorado Public Works Journal 47th & York Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge has more significance for this Denver community than most can see. Before the opening of this structure, students of the Swansea Elementary School were often late to class because their route to school crosses the railroad tracks. Some of them would miss the free breakfast that Denver Public Schools offers in the morning. Many of the trains are operated remotely and may sit idle across York Street for hours at a time, which led elementary school children to climb over train tracks and through train cars to get to school. This is not only dangerous but also takes time away from their education. This bridge reconnects the Elyria-Swansea community and is the perfect solution for chil- dren to cross the railroad tracks safely and more efficiently. The 47th & York Pedestrian Bridge was one of CCD’s highest priority projects in their 2015 Elyria Swansea Neighborhood Plan to keep their children safe. In 2017, the residents were able to vote on which construction project they wanted most in their neighborhood. The “Elevate Denver Bond Program” was then approved, making this 9.4 million dollar project come to life. The pedestrian bridge and ramps carry a shared path for pedestrians and bicyclists, over UPRR tracks, maintaining Americans with Disabili- ties Act (ADA) access. In an extremely constrained area, the team de- veloped a unique triangular ramp design to maximize the space and provide adequate clearances and ADA grades. The ramp structure type was driven by the very tight constraints imposed on the project by the limited right-of-way available. The structure depth had to be minimized to maintain adequate vertical clearance between the levels of the approach ramps. Edge beams run continuously on either side of the ramp, serving as a concrete parapet with a steel bicycle rail mounted on top, and as primary structural beams. Careful considera- tion was put into the touch down points for both the ramps and stairs to align with the most direct route and to increase use by reducing out-of-direction travel distance. With significant input from the com- munity, the design effort also led to the inclusion of creative railing, selection of colors, the addition of a local artist, a functional plaza area, and safety features such as enhanced lighting and visibility. The community is extremely proud of this project, and Wilson & Com- pany engaged the school and community throughout the process to make this bridge exceed their expectations. Children of the surround- ing schools participated in a competition by building their own model pedestrian bridges to understand how engineers approach their de- signs. Everyone who submitted a bridge received headphones while competing for prizes such as a gaming mouse and the coveted scooter. The competition was a strategic way to help the kids under- stand the importance of commuting safely and enabled them to be involved in and celebrate the design and construction phases of the project. Now, the children will be excited to use the 47th & York Pedestrian Bridge and have a quicker and much safer route to school. “Sometimes the most challenging projects become the most satisfy- ing when you remain focused on the goals. The end result for this project is beautiful and functional, and serves the exact needs of the community and the goals the City identified,” said Wilson & Company’s Vice President Scott Waterman, PE.