Plans are afoot to build a second deck on the iconic Sundial Bridge across the Sacramento River in Redding.
According to city of Redding officials, a second deck is needed to separate slow-moving strollers, casual dog-walkers and gawkers who clog the span from the cyclists, runners, in-line skaters and power walkers who only want to cross the river without slowing their pace.
“We’ve had several reports of cyclists having to slow way down when distracted sightseers nearly walked right in front of their bicycles,” said Terry Hanson, who oversees trail development for the city. “Earlier this week, a group of runners just about trampled an elderly woman’s corgi, which was too fat to make it all the way across the bridge. Really, it’s an unsafe situation.”
The proposed second deck would be located above the existing deck and would have a minimum speed limit of 5 mph. Anyone caught going slower than the minimum could be cited by security officers. An asphalt surface is proposed to better accommodate cyclists, runners and fast walkers, all of whom have trouble negotiating the bridge’s slippery-when-wet glass deck. The asphalt surface would also shade the glass tiles of the existing deck, which have scorched the paws of so many dogs since the bridge opened in 2004 that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has openly discussed filing a lawsuit.
The second deck anchored by a huge pylon on the south side of the river appears to be an alternative solution to the bridge-use conflicts. Earlier this year, city officials and representatives of the McConnell Foundation – which funded most of the Sundial Bridge’s original design and construction and which would foot the bill for the second deck – contacted architect Santiago Calatrava about building a second span dedicated to serious exercisers. The second bridge would be a mirror image of the Sundial Bridge, with a pylon on the south side of the river near the Turtle Bay Exploration Park cafe. Calatrava reportedly said he wasn’t interested because “the sundial wouldn’t work” on the new bridge.
However, Calatrava gave A News Café a different reason for his lack of interest in a second bridge.
“It’s too, too hot there in the summertime,” Calatrava said when reached by phone at a ski lodge near Zermatt. “Not to boast, but now that I’m in demand around the world, I choose my jobs carefully. And I choose not to work where it's 45 degrees in the shade.” (That’s 45 degrees Celsius, or about 113 Fahrenheit.)
Calatrava did say that a second cable-stayed deck above the existing bridge would not detract from his original, award-winning design. But he called the idea of an asphalt surface “insipid.”
“Only in America would they … ” he started to tell A News Café before his cell phone cut off.
There is some division in Redding City Hall over the best use of a second deck. Redding Councilman Patrick Jones said he would back the idea only if the additional deck carried automobiles.
“Getting cars across the bridge and up a new road through the arboretum would give us the second access to the convention center that we’ve needed for so long,” Jones explained. “We could finally empty the parking after Kool April Nites while it’s still April.”
However, Turtle Bay President and CEO Mike Warren and McConnell Foundation attorney John Mancasola, who was a key mover in getting the bridge built in the first place, both said that cars would ruin the Sundial Bridge experience.
“The whole point of the second deck is to accommodate runners like Mike, who right now are inconvenienced by inconsiderate tourists and mothers pushing baby strollers across the bridge,” Mancasola said.
When told of Mancasola and Warren’s concerns, Jones called Mancasola a “socialist” and questioned whether Turtle Bay has a right to exist under the constitution.
Uses of the second deck will need to be finalized, though, before engineers in the city’s Public Works Department can complete plans for the second deck, as a single Ford F250 weighs more than the entire Owens Healthcare Cycling Team.
The city council could take up the issue anytime after April 1.
* Editor's note: This article appeared on April 1 2001 to celebrate April Fools Day. It is completely fictitious, based solely upon the imagination of journalist Paul Shigley. We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as he enjoyed writing it. The "artist's rendering" was by cartoonist Phil Fountain.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and ain't no fool. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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