Bridge lives up to its legacy

Legacy Bridge copy Courtney Tanner
(Brent Uberty)

(Brent Uberty)

Located on upper campus as a pedestrian and bicyclist bridge over Mario Capecchi Drive, the significance of the George S. Eccles Legacy Bridge is often overlooked.

Hundreds of students cross the bridge on any given day in what is hailed by some as a “major connection point” on campus, but few know the history.

Legacy Bridge was announced in Spring 2001 as a pedestrian bridge to cross what was then Wasatch Drive and provide students with a safe crossing near what would be the future UTA TRAX Fort Douglas station.

Craig Bohn, director of the U’s Facility Operations, describes the bridge as part of a master plan for campus commute.

“It’s a central hub for students in that area of campus,” Bohn said.

Used strictly for campus life and activities today, the bridge was also featured in the 2002 Winter Olympics.

When the Olympics came to Salt Lake City in 2002, the U became an integral location for the sports. As athletes from all over the world traveled to the valley, they would make their temporary home in the hills of Fort Douglas, to the east, while many events took place in Rice-Eccles Stadium to the west. The importance of safely crossing between the two areas of campus became the goal of Legacy Bridge, which opened just months before the Opening Ceremony.

But the bridge is more than just a pathway — it’s also a symbol of innovation and memoriam on campus. The cable suspension of the bridge is a distinctive design in the western United States, giving a special architectural flair to its functionality.

The bridge also maintains its symbolism through its namesake of George S. Eccles, a philanthropist and supporter of the U throughout his lifetime. The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation funded the bridge in part for its construction.

Jasmine Harris, a student in strategic communications, admits she only uses the bridge a few times a semester to access the U Hospital, but she still has a few suggestions to improve its use. She wants less stairs and more salt in the winter.

“When it gets snowy, it’s so icy,” she said.

While the incline of campus into the foothills makes fewer steps unlikely, the bridge is equipped with an elevator on the west side for those with disabilities.

As the bridge has obtained new neighbors on campus since its opening in Fall 2001, such as the Donna Garff Marriott Honors Residential Scholars Community, the bridge is still tested every five years for safety. Officials check that the suspension cables haven’t expanded, that there are no structural compromises and that it maintains its overall appearance. Other maintenance is done as needed, such as painting, minor repairs and improvements.

With its close proximity to a TRAX station and the under-construction George S. Eccles Student Life Center, Legacy Bridge is slated to handle even more foot and bicycle traffic in the coming months.

s.smith@chronicle.utah.edu