CA: University of Memphis plans iconic bridge

CA: University of Memphis plans iconic bridge

There’s little that is pedestrian about the design of a soaring pedestrian bridge that will span two streets and railroad tracks dividing the University of Memphis campus.

“The (university) president really wanted to do an iconic structure,” said project architect Reb Haizlip, whose latest designs will be presented Thursday night to the Student Government Association.

Two parallel pylons — 80 feet tall — will angle slightly across the south edge of Southern Avenue. Ten strands of stainless steel cables — five on each side of the bridge — will fan out and down from the top of the weight-bearing towers.

The edifice will gleam at night with LED lighting that illuminates every cable strand as well as the attached U of M branding.

The south, suspended part of the 200-foot-long bridge crosses Southern and the tracks. The cables provide more than a pretty picture; they eliminate the need for some pylons, which means less interference with train operations during construction, said Tony Poteet, the U of M’s vice president for campus planning and design.

The bridge will be up to 20 feet wide and 23 feet above the railroad tracks.

The bridge’s northern section, which crosses Walker under the tree canopy and connects to the grassy Alumni Mall, is plainer and supported by pylons.

Construction should start by October or November and take a bit over a year to complete, Poteet said.

The pedestrian bridge may show the most pizzazz, but it is only part of a $37 million, multi-pronged project to enhance the south side of campus.

The bridge will deposit southbound students outside Level 4 of a six-level, 1,140-space parking garage to be built for $18.6 million. Or, they can take the stairs or elevators to the plaza below.

Cycling students can hold and guide their bikes down a smooth ledge to the side of the steps.

The north-south bridge aligns with a path that stretches from the campus administration building on the north edge of Alumni Mall on the north to what is now Echles Street south of the tracks. The site plan will convert Echles — between Southern and Spottswood — into a pedestrian mall.

The site plan creates gathering places at both ends of the bridge, including amphitheater-type spaces.

The sources for all the $36.6 million are in place, Poteet said. The garage will be paid for by the campus’s parking revenues. The bridge and site development will be funded by a $1 million gift and by students through the “student debt service fee.”

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CA: University of Memphis plans iconic bridge

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