I-705 Chihuly Pedestrian Bridge - Tacoma, Wash.
The $3.9 million Chihuly Pedestrian Bridge spans six lanes of north/southbound I-705, three sets of active Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad tracks and a busy waterfront access route. The bridge is one of the main components in the City of Tacoma's downtown revitalization efforts.
Although it is called the Chihuly “Bridge of Glass” because it showcases large-scale installations of more than $12 million worth of sculptural glass created by artist and Tacoma native Dale Chihuly, this new pedestrian walkway was actually constructed using more than 300,000 pounds of structural steel. Before the more than 2,500 glass pieces could be installed, the 30-foot base bridge had to be constructed. The majority of the bridge's girders range from 40 to 50 feet long. However, one of the central spans required three 130-foot-long girders, which were trucked in from Oregon and erected at night.
BNSF's railroad operations created access challenges, with three tracks carrying as many as 100 trains daily running through the work zone. Crews coordinated the efforts of all subcontractors and worked closely with BNSF, the City of Tacoma, the Washington State Department of Transportation and Chihuly Studio to complete the project in less than one year and meet the scheduled dedication and grand opening ceremony during Tacoma's 2002 July 4th celebrations.