The first pedestrian bridge to span Tempe Town Lake will be in place faster than originally planned because of the dam burst that drained the body of water.
The bridge on the lake’s west end will open in May of 2011, about a half-year ahead of schedule.
Tempe was already prepared to replace the west-end rubber dams when one burst July 20, and the empty lake means they can be replaced in a matter of months instead of over an entire year if the lake had been full.
The bridge work will start as soon as the new rubber dams are in place this November.
“It really is speeding everything up quite a bit,” spokeswoman Kris Baxter-Ging said.
The bow string arch bridge will span about 1,000 feet and create a new crossing between the Tempe Center for the Arts and the pedestrian paths on the lake’s north side.
The bridge will offer pedestrians the only place to cross on a structure that doesn’t also carry traffic. And it will be closer to the lake’s surface.
“People will be naturally drawn to it,” city architect Mark Vinson said. “Imagine how much people will want to be close to the water.”
The 10-foot-wide deck will expand to 14 feet in some areas so people can step out of the flow of pedestrians and bicyclists while looking over the lake.
Work continues to remove the old rubber dams, including Monday’s arrival of a crane with a 180-foot-tall boom. Workers are using the crane to lift the old dam sections onto trucks that haul away the material. The crane will also assist in placing the new rubber dams.
The bridge will help protect the new dam from the sun’s damaging rays to prevent the rubber from aging prematurely. The original dams were meant to last 25-30 years when installed in 1999, but studies determined the rubber deteriorated too quickly to endure that long.
The bridge will also support pipes for a sprinkler system that will cool the rubber sections.