Marana Town Engineer Keith Brann wore an earthy, reddish-brown shirt when he spoke with the Marana Town Council about bridge aesthetics.
He's hopeful an earthy monotone would be used to paint future Marana overpass structures, along with the Marana brand displayed on bridge abutments, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant landscaping, perhaps shaped forms in concrete structures with a secondary color, and metal silhouettes along pedestrian fencing depicting Southwestern animals and plants.
"Bright colors fade faster," and require more frequent painting, said Brann, who presented a slide show on overpass and underpass structures in the Phoenix valley as well as Tucson. He's advocating for a uniform aesthetic on Marana interchanges, with similar colors and form liners.
Marana has six interchanges with I-10, and three new, planned interchanges, among them the Twin Peaks overpass now under construction. In Marana, I-10 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks are parallel to one another, bisecting the community and creating a number of intersections with east-west thoroughfares.
As interchanges are created or reconstructed, each of them "is going to have to be pushed to a grade separation. It makes every one of our interchanges an overpass," Brann said.
That gives Marana an "opportunity" to be consistent "in how we do our aesthetics," so travelers "know it's a Marana bridge."
Brann detailed the elements of bridge aesthetics, among them paint and color, form liners in concrete that create shapes, applications upon structures, facades, monuments and landscaping.
"The more you put out, the more you have to maintain," Brann said of landscaping. Landscaped interchanges in Tucson are "starting to trap a lot of debris."
At overpass and underpass structures, towns "maintain the aesthetics," Brann said. "That's ADOT's deal." The state agency does require that paints meet ADOT specifications.
Brann explained the aesthetics on the Twin Peaks overpass, with varied paint colors, form liners for texture, and metal applications in a Santa Cruz River theme. "While this first interchange should be a showcase of architecture, it does not necessarily need to be repeated throughout the town," according to published discussion on bridge aesthetics.
Marana staff went to greater Phoenix, expressly to look at bridges.
The city of Phoenix uses a single color on its bridges. Patterns from Hohokam pottery are repeated in decomposed granite on ground next to bridges and roads. The city of Chandler uses a single color with a repeating pattern, requiring less maintenance. It changes up the details in its pedestrian fencing.
Tucson underpasses have different themes at each interchange, with three colors. One bridge has four colors. "It's a bit of overkill," Brann said.
Marana's goal is "a simplistic scheme," Brann said. "We lean more toward the Phoenix / Scottsdale / Chandler" approach, with a single color theme.
The Marana brand would be placed at each interchange. Varied metal silhouettes, likely in the shape of Southwestern images, are recommended for pedestrian fence structures. "It would give a very distinctive brand to each Marana interchange," Brann said.
"On bridges, less is better than more," Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler said.
"What's before you is a pretty monumental thing if you think about it," Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said. "It will leave a stamp. It's an opportunity to define our community."
"For years, we've kicked around ideas of what we can do in the I-10 corridor," Councilman Jon Post said. "You know when you come into Marana, and you know when you leave."