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Skyway BridgeOne of the bridges along the North Metro Rail Line will be the longest in RTD's FasTracks program. It will also be the longest bridge in Colorado. Construction began in early August 2015 and it will take about two years to complete.
Girders set January 2016. Photo credit: Ken Charles
It's called the Skyway Bridge and it will carry commuter trains through north metro Denver, crossing 11 existing transportation corridors and waterways.
The bridge was well under construction by the end of 2016. Here are some stats through February 2017:
• All 71 caissons and columns are complete
• 58 of 59 hammerhead caps are complete
• 132 of 192 girders have been set
• 2 of 4 crossbeams have been completed
• 9 of 22 deck units have been poured
• 2,700 of 9,533 feet of plinth for rail direct fixation has been poured
The Skyway Bridge will be 9,533 feet long, just a little under two miles. For comparison, the Golden Gate Bridge spans nearly 8,980 feet, the Brooklyn Bridge is 5,989 feet, and Colorado's Royal Gorge Bridge spans 1,260 feet.
Reasons to build the bridgeGenerally, it is more expensive to build a bridge than travel on land, but in the case of the Skyway bridge, RTD will take care of some important challenges related to constructing the North Metro Rail Line:
- Ease environmental impacts
- Ease construction impacts
- Preserve property to the greatest extent possible
Designing the projectIt's one of 12 bridges on the project. Design took nearly a year-and-a-half and required six engineers: Two full-time for the duration of the design, three part-time and one full-time senior engineer who managed design oversight.
Eight governmental and regional stakeholders coordinated on the bridge design. It will be assembled in sections. The properties below the bridge affect how and in what order the section construction will occur.
Skyway Bridge by the numbers
- 9,533 feet long
- 64 spans
- 63 piers
- 2 abutments
At its highest point, the Skyway Bridge will stand almost 50 feet above grade.
The routeThe bridge will begin its northward rise south of York Street in Commerce City. It spans above and across York Street, BNSF and Union Pacific railway tracks and spurs (four times), Brighton Boulevard, the Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Company ditch (three times), Sand Creek and I-270. The bridge will touch down adjacent to Bambei-Walker Reservoir, south of 68th Ave.
The Skyway Bridge is part of the 18.5-mile-long North Metro Rail Line project that will run from Denver Union Station through Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton. It's scheduled to open in 2018.