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California town hopes bridge will raise profile for tourism

By Associated Press
Published July 4, 2004

REDDING, Calif. - It was a decade in the making, two years behind schedule and eight times more expensive than proposed, but city leaders hope an eye-catching footbridge with a unique sundial design will help revitalize the city.

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava - the designer of the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens, Greece - crafted the Sundial Bridge across the Sacramento River that was to be unveiled today.

"It's the creation of a landmark. That's not so easy to do anymore," said Bob Warren, manager of Redding's Convention and Visitors Bureau. "I think people will see this as above and beyond the normal challenge a municipality would take on, particularly a community of our size."

The weight of the 700-foot-long bridge is carried by 14 cables strung from a 217-foot-tall spire that leans away from the river. The slender spire transfers the bridge's 3-million pounds of weight to a single 14-inch ball bearing set atop piers anchored 45 feet deep.

The shadow of the spire marks the passage of time in a nearby plaza.

The $23.5-million bridge is part of an attempt by Redding, located at the northern end of the hot, sunny Sacramento Valley, to reinvent itself as a destination for tourists heading into the mountains separating it from Oregon.

More than symbolizing the city of 87,000, community leaders hope the delicate, translucent bridge will be identified with all of far northern California. The area has been so ignored by more populated regions to the south that residents once thought of seceding to form the fanciful state of Jefferson.

The city originally wanted a more modest footbridge to connect sections of what is now 40 miles of a planned 120-mile bike trail. The original project was tagged at $3-million.

But then the Redding-based McConnell Foundation produced an offer to pay the balance toward a more elaborate design.

[Last modified July 4, 2004, 01:00:39]


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