A new bridge helps trail users and cyclists over I-215 on the southeast side of Salt Lake. The project is the first phase of a major bicycle and pedestrian route from the foothills to the valley. Parley's Trail will run east to west and link the Bonneville Shoreline Trail high on the valley bench down to the Provo-Jordan River Parkway. The eight-mile trail route meets other tough technical challenges including developed neighborhoods, a golf course, steep draingages, a light rail corridor, and the intersection of I-80 and I-215. Parleys Rails, Trails, and Tunnels Coalition is the non-profit group promoting the trail, which is expected to cost $20 million. Federal transportation funds totalling $10.5 million have been committed, along with $2.6 million from Salt Lake County's "Zoo, Arts and Parks" tax fund.
Click on any photo to see it full size (photos by Stuart Macdonald):
About the Parley's Crossing Bridge
by Jim Deschenes, Michael Baker Jr., Inc.
The original concept for the last phase of Parley's Crossing was a tunnel under I-215. That originally appeared to be the cheapest and most direct option. Bridge alternatives were considered, but they focused on a single span, keeping it short as possible. That meant a number of ADA compliant ramps to get up and over. I think the concept of using the grades and a two-span bridge was just overlooked.
As a frequent user of these trails and a bridge designer I realized that a two-span bridge using the existing side hills could be a good solution. From a rider's perspective - riding through a box culvert is not much fun. A bridge would be a better from the user's perspective. Some quick field measurements using my handheld GPS verified it was possible, but the existing noisewalls were problematic. With the support of UDOT, FHWA and Lochner, we were able to overcome the noisewall issues.
A tunnel would have required multiple lane closures and shutdowns of I-215. The bridge was constructed with only minor shoulder closures and one 4-hour nighttime closure. The actual bridge and trail were slightly more expensive than the tunnel, but when you consider other factors such as minimal impact to I-15, additional safety and security for trail users, visibility of the trail, and overall trail user experience, the bridge is a much better solution.
There are a lot of civil projects that get constructed based solely on functionality and low cost. I see this project as a big win for everyone, FHWA, UDOT, SL County, PRATT and users of the trail system, and proof that you can achieve visual aesthetics, good user experience and safety for both trail users and drivers.
Jim Deschenes, Operations Manager
By Todd Perkins, Perkins Engineering
Todd Perkins, P. E., Perkins Engineering
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