Foot/bike bridge across CDO, Big Wash likely open in January
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Workers are nearly completed with the pedestrian and bicycle bridge near the confluence of Big Wash and the Cañada del Oro Wash in Oro Valley. The $844,000 bridge is expected to be open next month.

An $844,000, pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the confluence of the Cañada del Oro and Big Wash in Oro Valley should be open for public use in January, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Concrete has been poured and is curing along the 353-foot span. A handrail is about to be installed. When testing and details are finalized, the bridge should be available for use "by the first week or second week of January," according to an ADOT engineer.

The bridge is part of the Oracle Road widening project. It is downstream from the Highway 77 roadway bridge by about 450 feet, and is viewed as a key connection in the development of Oro Valley's walking and bicycling trails network.

"It's a critical linkage," said Ainsley Legner, Oro Valley parks and recreation director.

ADOT is putting $250,000 toward the bridge, and the Town of Oro Valley is spending $594,000. The twin I-beam, galvanized steel bridge with concrete deck will have guard rails and hand rails. It sits atop two concrete piers resting on drill shafts 40 to 45 feet deep that are filled with poured concrete. ADOT secured special permission from the Pima County Flood Control District to build the bridge in a flood plain.

"In general, it is connecting Steam Pump Village with Oro Valley Marketplace," said Linda Ritter, spokeswoman for ADOT. "Eventually, Oro Valley will be building hiking trails."

"We are in the process of getting all those linkages put together," said Legner.

"It's very disconnected at the moment," said Nancy Ellis, multimodal coordinator for Oro Valley.

When it's finished and open, the south end of the new pedestrian / cycling bridge will connect to the section of the CDO Linear Park behind Steam Pump Village, which was built by Steam Pump Ranch developer Evergreen.

Soon after the bridge is done, Oro Valley plans to pave a quarter-mile section of path on town-owned property at the bridge's north end. That segment, entering a mesquite bosque, connects to the recreation path installed by Oro Valley Marketplace developer Vestar.

When that's all done, "residents will be able to go from Steam Pump Village up to Tangerine on the shared use paths," Ellis said.

A gap would remain between First Avenue and Steam Pump Village. Oro Valley has secured $500,000 in grant funds from ADOT to construct .6 of 1 mile of path within the CDO Linear Park between Steam Pump and First. Once that is installed, pedestrians and cyclists will have access to a full loop of path in central Oro Valley.

"It'll be a nice, long section," Ellis said, with a stretch of about six miles from La Cañada to Tangerine along the washes.

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