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Parabolic passage

A new bridge in downtown Spokane, Wash., links the University District and east Sprague neighborhood. The dual-span University District Gateway Bridge crosses the BNSF railway and East Martin Luther King Jr. Way, generating new connections within the local community and fostering development in an underserved neighborhood.

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Project designer LMN Architects presents the University District Gateway Bridge as a symbol of urban revitalization and regeneration of an important Spokane neighborhood.
Bridge i

Bridge ii

“One of the great things about infrastructure projects is that they benefit the entire public,” says Howard Fitzpatrick, principal with Seattle-based LMN Architects, lead designer. “The Gateway Bridge will make a real difference in the lives of many people in Spokane, and the enthusiastic public reception of the project has been very rewarding for the design team.”

Robust details on the 458-ft. crossing borrow from traditional railyard bridges, while the 120-ft. cast-in-place concrete parabolic arch becomes an icon on its own and significant Spokane skyline reference. The bridge deck is suspended from the arch with thick steel cables and stout connectors, creating a visual counterpoint to the graceful curve of the bone-white arch. A sturdy 10-ft. throw barrier, required by the railroad, completes the composition with built-in pathway lighting. At night, four large floodlights and programmable, color-changing LED system illuminate the iconic structure, enhancing its visibility from throughout the city.

The bridge is anchored on the north by a spiral ramp and grand stair connecting to a new Washington State University campus promenade, and on the south by a lower ramp and stair, providing access to South Sherman St. and Sprague Ave. The ramps and stairs allow for parallel pedestrian and cyclist routes at the landings; the main span combines travel modes with clear sightlines and generous width.