Pedestrian bridge

A pedestrian bridge costing nearly $19 million — about 24 percent more than the city's annual general fund allocation to the Parks Department of $15 million — will open to the public Thursday, July 1. 

This blog has been updated with an explanation for why the cost of the bridge increased from the original proposal.

An "iconic" pedestrian bridge, as described in the city's City for Champions application for state funds in 2013, will open to the public Thursday, July 1.

The nearly $19 million bridge connects America the Beautiful Park, southwest of downtown, with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame, 200 S. Sierra Madre St., and a refashioned Vermijo Street.

Local dignitaries and the project's architect will speak and then snip the ribbon at 10 a.m. They include Mayor John Suthers; El Paso County Commission Chairman Stan VanderWerf; City Councilor Randy Helms, who chairs the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (a funder of the bridge); developer Chris Jenkins, who chairs the Southwest Downtown Business Improvement District board, which also provided funding; and Benjamin Gilmartin, a partner with architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The bridge was funded with money from the museum’s bond issue, to be repaid in part with state money from the Rural Tourism Act (RTA), and from the city’s cut of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority’s 1 percent sales tax that funds roads and bridges.

The bridge was described as costing $14 million in the city's original application for state RTA funds. The construction contract with Kiewit Infrastructure, a national firm with a Colorado Springs office, was for $11 million. Now the city says it cost nearly $19 million. We've asked the city to explain the price differences and will circle back when we hear something.

City spokesperson Kim Melchor says via email, "[The] Project was more than ... $14M in the original application. That figure was based on a conceptual plan and as the project went from design to implementation over the last seven years it did incur some additional costs through construction and fabrication, however, the original scope and design of project and commitment by public sources remained the same. The additional costs were absorbed by private sources and the Park Union BID."

The bridge is part of the city's City for Champions tourism venture — a series of venues partially funded by $120.5 million in state sales tax rebates over 30 years. Other C4C projects include downtown's Weidner Field, the museum, the indoor Edward J. Robson Arena at Colorado College; the Air Force Academy Visitors Center, and the Bill J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center at UCCS. 

The museum, originally projected to cost $45 million to $50 million, ended up costing $90 million, and the board reportedly plans to ask for taxpayer money to shore up operational shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nor'wood Development Group, the master developer for the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area where the museum and bridge are located, also reportedly pitched in funds for the bridge's connection to America the Beautiful Park.

Nor'wood, run by Chris Jenkins and his father, David, owns land adjacent to the park where residential development is anticipated.

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.